Allan Katz: Put on your pundit hat — who’s going to win on Nov. 4?

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Allan Katz and Danae Columbus

Since Danae has been on the sidelines in two current campaigns, we thought it was only appropriate that Allan — who wrote his “cloudy crystal ball” political predictions in the Times Picayune for decades — pen this column.

A very important election will be held in New Orleans and throughout America on Tuesday. What do the pundits think is going to happen? Who cares? You’re the ones who are going to the polls to vote. Your opinions are worth as much or more than some self-appointed seer who thinks he or she knows more about Louisiana politics than voters just like you.  Early voting set an all-time record. But traditional voters like Allan will still vote next Tuesday. Seize that power and help decide our political future.

Here is some information about several of the elections that will be on the ballot in New Orleans. How good are you at picking the outcomes before the polls open?

Rob Maness

Rob Maness

Bill Cassidy

Bill Cassidy

Mary Landrieu

Mary Landrieu

U.S. Senate: The conventional wisdom is that U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy are headed for a Dec. 6 runoff with Tea Party candidate Rob Maness running third. Some voters are probably now pulling away from Maness, not wanting to waste their vote. But both Landrieu and Cassidy are dreaming — only dreaming — about a first primary victory on Tuesday. After a slow start, the Landrieu campaign is revving up in the last three weeks. The final push begins today with support from Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, giving many New Orleanians the first opportunity to see her in person. What is your opinion on this race?

Nakisha Ervin-Knott

Nakisha Ervin-Knott

Lloyd Medley

Lloyd Medley

Civil District Court Division D:  Judge Lloyd Medley (one of Danae’s clients) is trying to win a fourth term against his opponent, Nakisha Ervin-Knott. Medley served as Chief Judge and has a clean record. Ervin-Knott’s husband is a convicted felon, a point some think is relevant to this election while others think it is completely irrelevant.

Civil District Court Division F: Incumbent Judge Chris Bruno, elected in 2009 and strongly supported by much of the city’s traditional political establishment, probably has been surprised by the strong campaign conducted by first-time candidate Ruth Ramsey, sister of Councilmember Nadine Ramsey, and also supported by Congressman Cedric Richmond.  In an early poll conducted by our friend Nat Kiefer, Bruno naturally was way ahead. In a poll released yesterday by the WIN Partners, the numbers have tightened considerably.  But you, the voters, will make the final decision.

Taetrece Harrison

Taetrece Harrison

Bernadette D'Souza

Bernadette D’Souza

Family Court Division 1: Judge Bernadette D’Souza is a popular and committed jurist who has spent her career serving families including in the legal aid environment. She is being opposed by first-time candidate Taetrece Harrison who says D’Souza pushes off too many decisions to mediators driving up costs for families who can little afford to additional expense. Harrison, who has a master’s in taxation, could have dropped out the race and tried to trade up for another election but says this is the only court she wants to serve.

Michelle Scott

Michelle Scott

Monique Barial

Monique Barial

Janet Ahern

Janet Ahern

Family Court Division 2:  Three talented veteran attorneys are vying for this open seat including long-term family law specialist Janet Ahern (Danae’s other client), established family law practioner Michelle Scott-Bennett and Monique Barial, former minute clerk for Judge Chris Bruno. Ahern’s professional demeanor during her decades of practice makes her popular in legal circles. With limited resources, Scott-Bennett has largely waged a successful grassroots campaign. Barial hails from strong Creole New Orleans roots.  Poll numbers indicate that voters seems almost evenly split but your turnout will make the difference.

Criminal Court Division D:  Criminal District Court Judge Frank Marullo, one of the longest serving judges in America, has ruled at Tulane and Broad for 40 years. We have always loved Frank for his frank talk. But his opponent, newcomer Graham Bosworth, has run an excellent campaign and has picked up plenty of endorsements. Also in the race is Marie Williams who will drive this election into a runoff. The WIN Partners poll shows Marullo holding on to a strong lead, with Williams just barely ahead of Bosworth for the runoff spot.

Criminal District Court Division G: Municipal Court Judge Paul Sens is having the fight of his life as he tries to move up to Criminal Court. He has survived allegations by the Inspector General that Sens had 17 family members on the Municipal Court payroll. His opponent Byron Williams, a former federal and local prosecutor, has developed into a formidable candidate who the WIN Partners say is way ahead.

Juvenile Court: Judge Yolanda King, technically the incumbent but has not served a day on the bench in months, after being indicted for allegedly lying about where she lived. Her opponents include whistleblower and former candidate Cynthia Samuel; Niki Roberts, one of the TP’s picks and a protege of Eddie Sapir, who heads the DA’s Juvenile Division; former interim Councilmember Freddy Charbonnet who says juvenile court needs a male judge; long-time juvenile court practitioner Desiree Cook Calvin who is supported by Congressman Richmond and also endorsed by the TP; and nurse/lawyer Jacqueline Gilds who was endorsed by the New Orleans Coalition. WIN Partners shows Charbonnet and Cook-Calvin just ahead of King and Samuel for the runoff, but the margins are close.

There are several other races of course like Congressman Cedric Richmond who will easily win in the primary against Gary Landrieu and several even lesser-known opponents, and the Public Service Commission race pitting Alliance for Affordable Energy exec Forest Wright against PSC Chairman Eric Skrmetta. Only a few of you will have the opportunity to vote in that race as most of New Orleans is represented by Lambert Boissiere III.

The fate of the U.S. Senate could be in your hands. We urge everyone to get out and vote for or against your favorite candidates and on the constitutional amendments.

Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several television programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Sheriff Charles Foti and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.

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