Though it might seem like our political season just ended, Louisiana’s campaigns are cranking up again next week with qualifying Jan. 8-10 for a vacant judgeship at First City Court and for dozens of seats on the Orleans Parish Democratic and Republican Parish Executive Committees and State Central Committees. The First City Court vacancy is due to the recent untimely passing of Senior Judge Angelique Reed, 59, the first African-American to be elected to that court. Reed served with distinction for 21 years. Attorney Robbins Graham, 61, a graduate of Southern University Law Center, told Uptown Messenger he was “seriously interested in qualifying.” The Louisiana State Bar Association lists Graham as an attorney for the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
In tonight’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, the seven participating candidates probably won’t dwell on yesterday’s impeachment vote by the U.S. House of Representatives. Though some – especially former Vice President Joe Biden – might strongly believe that President Trump abused his power, America’s voters are evenly split as to whether he should be removed from office.
A just released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 900 adults showed that 48% of voters surveyed favor impeachment and removal from office and that 44% believe that President Trump’s previous actions before the situation with Ukraine were already grounds for impeachment. Congressional Democrats took a big risk when they stood by their principles knowing full well that the Republican controlled Senate will acquit President Trump. Not even one House Republican voted for impeachment. At the same time, some members of Congress — but not 2nd District Rep. Cedric Richmond — could have done serious damage to their own electability in 2020 if the mood of the voters in the suburbs and among minorities shifts more toward the president. GOP-aligned super PACs have already been pouring millions into digital ads against those who voted for impeachment.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the political organization BOLD scored big in Saturday’s elections. Cantrell built a strong bond with Gov. John Bel Edwards more than a year ago when she sought his help on increasing New Orleans’ share of tax dollars generated here. She became an integral part of his campaign and his victory, which should yield generous dividends for New Orleans during the next four years. Cantrell’s Action New Orleans team of more than 250 volunteers knocked on 70,000 doors, sent 3,500 text messages and made 50,000 calls in support of Gov. Edwards and Cantrell’s Ballot of Yes. They also assisted with two GOTV (get out the vote) rallies, including an election eve event that drew 5,000.
To cinch her victory in the District 98 runoff on Saturday, Aimee Adatto Freeman consolidated her base in the Audubon and university-area neighborhoods to sweep every precinct between Jefferson and Carrollton avenues. District-wide, Freeman won 42 precincts on Saturday to Kea Sherman’s 10. Freeman won all but one of the 37 where she had placed first in October’s crowded six-person primary, adding five where Carlos Zervigon had led and one where Ravi Sangisetty had placed first. Sherman held on to all six of those where she led in the primary in Freret and west Carrollton, and added four more nearby: two where Zervigon had led, one of Sangisetty’s, and one where Freeman had led in October. The bellwether precinct — where Freeman won 57.8 percent of the vote, most similar to her total across the district — was Ward 13 Precinct 15 in Broadmoor (along Claiborne between Jefferson and Napoleon).
The October primary for the District 91 seat in the state House of Representatives was nearly a three-way tie in votes cast between Robert McKnight, Mandie Landry and third-place finisher Carling Dinkler. To secure her victory in the runoff Saturday night, Landry picked up nearly every precinct where Dinkler had led — ultimately holding McKnight to the same number of precincts where he led in the primary. In October, McKnight led in 23 precincts of the district’s 53 voting precincts. Dinkler led in 17; Landry led in 12 and Dinkler and Landry tied exactly in one. On Saturday, Landry won 30 of the 53.
Political newcomers Mandie Landry and Aimee Adatto Freeman will join newly re-elected Gov. John Bel Edwards in Baton Rouge next year, after each won competitive runoffs Saturday to represent Uptown New Orleans in the state House of Representatives. Landry, a lawyer who has represented pro-choice advocacy groups, won 53 percent of the vote in District 91 in the runoff against fellow lawyer Robert McKnight, an attorney with the Orleans Public Defenders. District 91 — held by term-limited State Rep. Walt Leger — represents a ribbon of Uptown that stretches from Hollygrove and Gert Town down through parts of Central City and Milan to the Irish Channel and Lower Garden District. Freeman, an adjunct professor at Tulane University’s business school, won 57 percent of the vote in District 98 over Kea Sherman, a small-business attorney. District 98 — held by state Rep. Neil Abramson, who is also term-limited — is nestled in the Riverbend roughly between the Jefferson Parish line and Napoleon Avenue, and including the Carrollton, Broadmoor, Audubon, University and Freret neighborhoods.
Buoyed by a new Mason-Dixon poll that shows a path — albeit small — to victory, Gov. John Bel Edwards spent Wednesday evening talking with young African-American artists like Brandan Odums, Kevin “2-Cent “ Griffin and Tayla Hunter as part of his ongoing outreach to previously under-appreciated constituencies. If Edwards is able to pull off what would be a Hail Mary victory on Saturday, he will have succeeded in three crucial areas: motivating minority voters who were unenthusiastic in the primary; reaching conservative voters who at one time supported former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu; and branding Republican opponent Eddie Rispone as too radical to be Louisiana’s next governor. Even as a slight majority of voters are inclined to pull the lever for Edwards, he still has to get supporters to the polls. Failure to accomplish this most important goal will lead to a Rispone victory and the defeat of the South’s only Democratic governor. Voters have to hand it to Rispone.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell is working harder than the candidates themselves in this election cycle. Just like an Energizer bunny, she won’t slow down because she has so much to lose. Cantrell is betting on a robust turnout among the African-American and millennial voters who first got her elected to pass her tax package and re-elect Gov. John Bel Edwards. Many older black voters rely on traditional paper ballots circulated by the big four groups — BOLD, SOUL, LIFE, and COUP — all of whom produced glossy pieces this year featuring the candidates who helped pay for them, including Edwards and Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin. To get millennials to the polls, Cantrell has been tweeting up a storm – kind of like a president we all know – and constantly updating her Instagram feed. A high-energy leader who prefers her own counsel, Cantrell likes nothing better than keeping the momentum going by stirring up young progressives.
With early voting starting Saturday, New Orleans legislative candidates are pulling together the cash and people resources needed to fund last-minute mail and get-out-the-vote activities. At least five legislative candidates held fundraisers this week as well as soliciting donations through social media. Despite last night’s steady rain, several hundred donors were posing for photos and dropping off checks around town.
House District 98 candidate Aimee Adatto Freeman drew the biggest crowd at the Uptown home of Kara Van de Carr and Darryl Byrd. Joining Freeman were her parents Be-Be and Ken Adatto, pollster Ron Faucheux, Aviation Board present Michael Bagneris and wife Madalyn, City Hall insider Bob Tucker, Dana and Steve Hansel, Chip Flower, Maria Wisdom, Richard Freeman, Frances Fayard and outgoing state Rep. Neil Abramson. “I’ve never seen a candidate work as hard as Aimee knocking doors and listening to the voters,” said former City Council President Stacy Head.
Secretary of State Candidate Gwen Collins-Greenup told a New Orleans audience Wednesday night that every citizen should receive a receipt after casting his or her vote. “Printing out a paper receipt would build confidence in the election process,” she said. Collins-Greenup would also institute post election audits to ensure the accuracy of results and that “every Louisiana voice is heard.”
She believes that early voting should be allowed until the day before an election and that the voting hours should be extended to accommodate working mothers. “Louisiana is not a red state, it’s a non-voting state,” said Collins-Greenup. Collins-Greenup, a Democrat, is again facing off for a second time against current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who was first elected in 2018 to fill the unexpired term of Tom Schedler.