by C C Campbell-Rock and Hazel Trice Edney
NEW ORLEANS (NNPA) – In what turned out to be a racially charged election, Mayor Ray Nagin narrowly-defeated Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu in Saturday’s run-off but still faces an uphill battle in restoring the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans.
''I know what it's like to go up against Goliath, with five smooth stones,'' a tired Nagin reportedly told a congregation gathered Sunday morning inside New Orleans’ St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, which sits in the still-littered Treme neighborhood.
David, in the form of Nagin, won the run-off with 52 percent (59,460 votes) to Landrieu’s 48 percent (54,131 votes).
The run-off was split along racial lines with Nagin winning 80 percent of Black votes and about 20 percent of White votes, according to GCR Associates, an urban planning and campaign analyst of New Orleans. Landrieu won roughly the same percentages in reverse.
“I’m not surprised because historically, whenever there is a perception in the Black community that an African-American leader is under attack, history shows that we will get behind them,” says Vincent Sylvain, the New Orleans-based regional director of the Rebuild Hope Now Campaign of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.
“This became more of a cause in the Black community, that they were going to fight to hold on to something that they had. What we kept hearing in the New Orleans community was, ‘This was bigger than Nagin.’ What folks were saying is while they may not have been happy with his leadership over the past four years, he was still theirs, he was still one of them.”
This was a switch from four years ago when Nagin won with more than 80 percent of White votes and only 40 percent of Black votes. The erosion of Nagin’s White support and Landrieu’s family legacy as progressives caused some analysts to predict a victory for Landrieu.
But Landrieu made a tactical error.
“He did not distinguish himself as being that much different from Mayor Nagin. In fact, at mayoral debates, he constantly agreed with the position of the mayor,” Sylvain says. “So, from the Black community perspective, if you agree with the mayor, then there’s no need for change.” More>>>