On Saturday, Democratic state senator Ed Murray pulled out of the New Orleans mayor’s race, essentially clearing the field for Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, brother of Sen. Mary Landrieu, to walk into the job.
Call this episode The Other Shoe Dropping.
Murray cited a desire to avoid a racially-divisive campaign in a head-to-head matchup with Landrieu as his prime reason for getting out, which is utterly absurd. Murray, who is black, had been endorsed by the Greater New Orleans Republicans over GOP candidate Rob Couhig and Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat John Georges last month. As Republicans are outnumbered six-to-one in Orleans Parish and the racial makeup of the parish is roughly 60-40 black to white, for Murray to turn down a “racially divisive” campaign is pure stupidity; if he’s capturing the 15 percent of the electorate who are Republicans (the vast majority of whom are white) and three-fifths of the black voters, he wins easily in a head-to-head matchup against Landrieu. In fact, that precise formula proved so solid as to cinch re-election for Ray Nagin – the biggest laughingstock of a mayor south of Kwame Kilpatrick – four years ago.
So why would Murray pull out? The most obvious answer is the fix is in.
Many had suspected a strong interplay between Mitch getting the mayoral seat in New Orleans and Mary’s use of the political machines to manufacture the votes to get re-elected again in five years; she’s managed to squeak past three Republican opponents so far despite being continuously regarded as vulnerable, and it’s been the Orleans Parish vote which has saved her every time.
But with Landrieu’s scandalous “Louisiana Purchase” vote on the senate health care bill trashing her approval ratings and reputation, the Orleans machine vote is going to be absolutely indispensable when she comes up for re-election in 2014. She’s going to need someone who can turn out/manufacture more votes than perhaps ever before, or else she’s toast.
And to generate that kind of machinery, you need more patronage than just a U.S. senator can generate. You need a mayor at the strings who can dole out jobs and contracts to really run a good machine. And Mitch has taken two prior stabs at the New Orleans mayor’s job, having been thrown back with the little fish both times.
Little surprise, then, that in the wake of Murray’s departure from the race the buzz has it that big national Democratic money is headed to New Orleans in support of Mitch’s campaign. One gets the impression that Murray was either frightened off or bought off by the national party.
And since both Murray and Landrieu are Democrats, the only deduction one can make from the above is that we’re now seeing the added benefit to the Landrieu’s of Mary’s healthcare vote. Specifically, the Democratic National Committee has now decided the New Orleans mayor’s race in favor of her brother as an additional compensation for her vote – the $300 million we knew about was only part of the bargain.
Back in 1803, when the original Louisiana Purchase was made, gaining the city of New Orleans for the United States was one of several stated objectives in the decision to buy all that territory from the French. This time around, it was more of a quiet quid pro quo. But the effect seems largely the same.
The preferences of the actual voters in New Orleans? Who cares? The DNC understands that candidates are a lot more important than voters. And by clearing the field so that Landrieu can run against a gaggle of wannabes and nobodies, they’ve imposed their same-old style of nanny socialism on a city which just can’t afford it anymore.