After Mitch Landrieu won re-election as mayor of New Orleans with a rather impressive 64-33 margin over retired judge Michael Bagneris on Saturday, the rumor mill immediately began churning out stories about Landrieu’s impending announcement that he’d be running for governor in 2015.
Landrieu hasn’t been very effective in tamping those rumors down so far. All he’s managed since Saturday was, in response to a question on the subject, to say that yes, he would finish his second term as mayor.
Of course, he can make that claim since if he runs for governor and loses he’d still be mayor of New Orleans. And if he runs and wins, the people of New Orleans and whether he lied to them wouldn’t be a particular problem for him.
But as it happens, there’s another Democrat already in the 2015 race for governor, and he’s not all that interested in competition – thank you very much.
Which is why state rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite), who has been plugging away in relative obscurity as he attempts to get his campaign off the ground, took the opportunity yesterday to throw dishware at Landrieu.
“I can tell you that when I make a promise, I keep it,” Edwards said in a press release sent out Monday morning, adding, “I congratulate Mayor Landrieu on winning another term and I look forward to working with him when I am governor.”
Edwards, like other Dems, are also trying to read something into the weekend’s voter turnout.
According to the secretary of state’s office, about 64 percent of New Orleans’ voters who qualified to vote in Saturday’s election were registered Democrats. The unofficial voter turnout for the mayoral race, however, was estimated to be only 34 percent of the city’s more than 240,000 qualified voters.
“This kind of turnout tells us that a successful statewide candidate must possess the shared values of the people of our state,” Edwards said.
Put simply, if Landrieu gets into the race Edwards is finished. He doesn’t have the money Landrieu has, he doesn’t have a population base to draw from like Landrieu does and he lacks Landrieu’s name recognition. And if there are two Democrats of note running in the primary, there are most assuredly no Democrats running in the runoff; Louisiana just doesn’t have enough Democrat voters anymore to push a candidate past both a David Vitter and a Jay Dardenne if they can’t consolidate support behind a single candidate.
Edwards might be a lefty trial lawyer and a stooge of the teachers’ unions, but he’s not stupid. He knows that not only does he need Landrieu to stay out of the race he also needs the mayor to support him – particularly since it appears Landrieu has a better ability to turn out the black vote in New Orleans than the old-school alphabet-soup political machines do.
One wonders what kinds of back-channel discussions there might have been between Edwards and Landrieu prior to Monday’s shot across the bow. It’s reasonable to assume that if Edwards had gotten any assurances from the mayor that he wasn’t getting in there would have been no reason to take a slap at him.
And because of that, Edwards’ press release could be interpreted as an “Aw, crap!” about his prospects, and a sign of fear that his campaign might be ending before it ever really got started.