Mitch Won Big

From the Secretary of State’s website…

Those results are actually more surprising to folks who paid some attention to the race than those who paid nearly none.

For one thing, most people had never heard of Michael Bagneris. He’s from a “name” New Orleans political family, but all most folks knew about him was that he was a judge who decided to run for mayor. The political junkies among us knew that Bagneris was Dutch Morial’s chief of staff all those years ago and that he’s been an operator in the Morial political machine for a long time, but that obviously didn’t mean a lot.

And for another, the insider buzz had it that Bagneris would pull a shocking amount of the black vote because the “alphabet soup” mini-machines in the New Orleans area, organizations with names like BOLD and LIFE and SOUL, were all backing him. Those organizations for a very long time had been the key to winning elections in Orleans Parish. But it doesn’t appear they still hold much power any longer; Landrieu actually brought in a grassroots consultant from DC who has done work for his sister and carried half the black vote in New Orleans against a black candidate who had the major black grassroots organizations on his side.

In a race with really low turnout – 34.5 percent was better than the 32.7 percent turnout in the less-competitive 2010 mayor’s race but much worse than either the primary or runoff in 2006 amid a Katrina-ruined city – you would have expected the established grassroots people to do Bagneris some good. They didn’t.

Which is not to say that the Democrat machine in Orleans Parish doesn’t function any more. It does, and like Mike Bayham said on Friday it will function for Landrieu’s sister in November. But last night’s results indicate that it doesn’t function in the same way it used to. The “Morial machine” people used to talk about in fear…that’s gone.

And what’s also interesting is amid all the griping and carping being done by people Landrieu has trampled on during his first term, and there have been a goodly number of those people, he still pulled 64 percent of the vote. The general population in Orleans Parish either thinks Landrieu is doing a good job, has sworn off the concept of voting a mayor out of office after one term (that hasn’t happened in New Orleans since Andrew J. McShane got trounced by Martin Behrmann and the Old Regular crew back in 1925), and if it didn’t happen to Ray Nagin in 2006 one wonders if it will ever happen again) or has grown so disgusted with the Morial brand as to never pull a lever for a member of that political clan again.

Or maybe all three.

Either way, Landrieu is back in office for four more years, and his name will be thrown around as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2015 from now until he definitively says he’s not running.

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