New Orleans Run Off Livebloggingby Kevin Boyd
Welcome to liveblogging of the runoff for the 2006 New Orleans municpial elections. These elections are being billed as the most important elections in New Orleans’s history and are also being watched by the world. The races up for grabs are the mayor, city council at large, city council seats for Districts A, B, and C, Criminal Clerk of Court, and two assessorships. I will spend the half hour before the polls close describing the various races and who’s running. So sit back and pull up a chair, this will be a long night.
7:30 PM: One website I will be monitoring tonight is the Secretary of State’s Elections Central and the TV station I will be watching mostly is WWL-TV because I’ve found their elections coverage to be the most comprehensive.
Now for the races, first up is the mayor’s race.
Mayor Ray Nagin is taking on Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu. I don’t think very highly of either one because I believe Nagin is incompetant and Landrieu is an old style machine politician with ties to some of the most corrupt mayors in New Orleans history such as Marc Morial. I have no hope for either of these two if they win, so I’ll be watching the city council races to see if New Orleans goes in a reform-minded direction.
Second up, City Council at Large:
Arnie Fielkow, former New Orleans Saints executive, is running against City Councilwoman Jacquelyn Clarkson. The choice here is very clear, Clarkson must be defeated. She has been in government for 16 years with little to show for it, her patting herself on her back not withstanding. Although I don’t agree with much of Fielkow’s beliefs, I think he will be a wonderful voice for change in New Orleans city government.
7:55 PM: Some turnout reports I’ve gotten both from the news and antedoctal evidence. High African-American turnout while white turnout is anywhere from light to moderate. There are also 24,000 absentees in, that’s up from 21,000 in the primary. I would have to say that the turnout pattern benefits Nagin.
8:00 PM: Polls closed.
8:08 PM: First numbers in, Mitch Landrieu 64%, Ray Nagin 36%. This must be a mostly white precinct. WWL-TV is also showing the first numbers from District A, which is the mostly white council district so it is the case.
8:13 PM: Numbers are coming in much quicker than last time. Seven precincts are already in.
8:26 PM: I’m also monitoring the Nola.com forums and the politicsLA.com forum as well. Posts on both forums say that Nagin is meeting and beating his threshold for white votes. There are also rumors of massive vote fraud from the evacuees.
8:30 PM: Landrieu 54%, Nagin 46% with 17% of precincts in. Fielkow is wiping the floor with Clarkson with 63% to 37% with 17% of precincts in.
8:38 PM: With 28% of precincts in, Landrieu has 55% and Nagin has 45%, but these are still mostly white and mixed race precincts.
8:51 PM: WWL election analyst is predicting the voting pattern is benefiting Nagin with over 80% of the African-American vote going to him and Nagin is picking up more than 20% of the white vote.
9:05 PM: Landrieu at 53% and Nagin with 47% with 45% precincts in. Only a few of the black precincts are coming in.
9:06 PM: Landrieu’s lead continues to narrow to 52% and Nagin is up to 48% with 46% of precincts coming in.
9:12 PM: WDSU-TV is reporting nearly 800 absentee ballots were thrown out.
9:17 PM: WWL-TV is reporting Landrieu at 51% and Nagin at 49% with half of all precincts in.
9:21 PM: WWL-TV still reporting from mostly white precincts. These close numbers in these early precincts cannot be good news for Landrieu.
9:23 PM: WWL-TV reporting Landrieu up by less than 300 votes with 52% precincts in.
9:26 PM: WDSU-TV analyst Silas Lee “those 800 may make a difference”, referring to the thrown out absentee ballots. There will be lawsuits and that’s unfortunate.
9:27 PM: Landrieu beginning to pull ahead, back up to 52%.
9:29 PM: According to the Nola.com forum, WVUE-TV has called the race for Nagin. I’m seeing if this is true.
9:31 PM: WVUE-TV has indeed called it for Nagin. I want to see their reasoning for this call. They’re making the call with 59% of the precincts in. They’re also calling the Council at Large race for Arnie Fielkow.
9:33 PM: WDSU-TV and WVUE-TV are calling Assessor District 1 for incumbant assessor Darren Mire. Mire has supported consolidating the seven assessors down to one so this is not a big loss. However, I want to puke over the results in Assessor District 4 where incumbant assessor, Betty Jefferson, the sister of the corrupt Congressman William Jefferson, has won handily.
9:38 PM: No other TV station is following WVUE-TV’s lead and calling the race for Nagin.
9:40 PM: I’m going to go along with WVUE’s call on Fielkow. The long and undisguished political career of Jacquelyn Clarkson has come to an end.
9:48 PM: WGNO-TV, according to PoliticsLA.com’s forums, has joined WVUE-TV to call the race for Nagin.
9:51 PM: WWL-TV is reporting Nagin is recieving 51% of the vote with 83% of precincts in. Also, their analyst is again saying the trends favor Nagin.
9:56 PM: Absentees in, Nagin won the absentee vote by 68 votes.
9:58 PM: WWL-TV is calling it for Nagin. With the absentees in and more of the African-American vote coming in, I’m now comfortable in supporting the call. Ray Nagin has been reelected mayor of New Orleans.
10:04 PM: Nagin has won reelection apparently with the damndest coalition ever seen in Louisiana politics. Middle and low income African Americans voting mostly on race and white conservatives voting for Nagin because of his pro-business politics and against Landrieu and his ties to Marc Morial and Governor Blanco.
10:14 PM: Criminal Clerk of Court race has been called for the ethically challenged Arthur Morrell, who has steered contracts to relatives. Another major disappointment tonight.
10:15 PM: City Council District C has been called for James Carter. I would have been happy with either Carter or his opponent Kristen Palmer. They’re both newcomers and have done excellent work in the community and the business world.
10:22 PM: Mitch Landrieu speaking now. He is conceeding defeat. WWL-TV is projected Shelly Midura in City Council District A has defeated incumbant Jay Batt. Batt was the sole Republican on the New Orleans City Council and this has to be another disappointment for the Orleans Parish Republican Party. This was a very nasty race and unfortunately, both of them couldn’t lose.
10:48 PM: An amazing victory speech by Ray Nagin. When he mentioned President Bush, the majority African-American crowd applauded loudly. When he mentioned Governor Kathleen Blanco’s name, the majority African-American crowd booed. Ray Nagin owes no one this victory tonight. Not the Louisiana Democratic Party, not the media, not the political machines, not the ministers, not the business community, no one but the average citizens of New Orleans. He’s also got a reform-minded city council with the defeat of three incumbants tonight. He has no excuses now, but to push for reform now.