New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) was once seen as a top Democratic contender to go head-to-head with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) in the state’s gubernatorial race. However, lately, Landrieu’s name has fell on deaf ears.
Nonetheless, Democratic Governors Association Chairman Montana Gov. Steve Bullock recently mentioned that he believes Landrieu is eyeing a run for the governorship. This is the first time the Big Easy mayor’s name has been brought up since his sister, former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), was defeated by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) in November.
But, is Landrieu in a place at the moment to launch a state-wide gubernatorial campaign?
As seen most recently, Mary was viewed as a long-time ‘political dynasty’ Democrat, a label Mitch could suffer from in a statewide election.
Also, Landrieu’s accomplishments are slim in the city of New Orleans.
Under Landrieu’s watch, violent crime is on the upswing in the city, specifically in the tourist-ridden French Quarter area. According to the NOPD, in the first three quarters of 2014, there was a 24 percent increase in crimes against people and a 13 percent increase in property crimes.
And though Landrieu celebrated that New Orleans had seen the lowest number of murders in 43 years, the city’s murder rate is well above the national average. In 2014, there were almost 40 murders per $100,000 residents. That’s much, much higher than the national average, which was 11 murders per 100,000 people in 2013.
Landrieu has made it more than public that he believes the Louisiana State Police should practically represent a large portion of the law enforcement in the city of New Orleans, consistently demanding that Gov. Bobby Jindal place a permanent group of state troopers in the area.
After coming under fire from Sidney Torres, a famed New Orleans businessman, Landrieu has since created a solution: Funneling $2.3 million into an unarmed “NOLA Patrol” group that will take on traffic concerns in the city.
According to Landrieu, the NOLA Patrol will free up NOPD officers so that more can focus on crime-heavy areas. Members of the group will be receiving a salary of $25,000 a year.
Meanwhile, Torres is putting his own money towards paying off-duty NOPD to patrol the French Quarter and has even created a mobile app for the public to report crime. This move, could potentially upstage Landrieu’s effort.
When it comes to regulation, Landrieu does not fall far from the Democratic tree.
Most famously, under Landrieu, the New Orleans City Council passed a sweeping, city-wide ordinance which essentially makes it illegal to smoke in any public area or business, including bars, in the city.
Landrieu was quiet on the matter, though he has made it very clear how he feels about smoking in the past.
Remember his proposed cigarette tax back in June? The plan failed three times and would have tripled the city’s current tobacco tax rate, which is 36 cents per pack to $1.11. Not to mention, this would have made the city of New Orleans the only local government to have it’s own tobacco tax and would have raised approximately $12 million to $18 million per year.
And currently, the City Council is reviewing a plan to create a “rental registry” for all rental properties in the city. Again, Landrieu has been silent on his thoughts of the proposal, leaving residents to speculate if he is for a public registry for rentals, which could lead to increased rent rates and more red-tape on law-abiding property owners.
Landrieu’s public image state-wide could go either way.
First, remember that Landrieu was endorsed by President Barack Obama, who is highly unfavorable in the state. That is one endorsement which would be a burden, rather than a positive in this gubernatorial race.
To some, Landrieu could be perceived as trying his best to clean up a crime-filled city. On the other hand, some could see his efforts as a lack of action and a constant whining about New Orleans being mistreated by the state.
Back in June of 2014, Landrieu claimed that the city was “robbed” of its fair share when it came to the Super Bowl XLVII. Landrieu said New Orleans only profited about $500,000 from the national event because of state tax laws.
Landrieu conveniently left out the fact that overall, New Orleans’ economic netted impact from the Super Bowl was $480 million for the region, according to a study conducted by the University of New Orleans.
Likewise, Landrieu could be viewed as whining instead of acting.
In mid-2014, Landrieu requested that the federal government and Department of Justice should have gotten involved following the infamous Bourbon Street shooting, which left 1 woman dead and put 9 residents in the hospital.
Landrieu held a press conference at the time, asking that the federal government help the NOPD, asking the feds to “get back in the business of fighting crime.” Landrieu said the federal government spent millions of dollars creating police in foreign countries, but has left American cities in the dark, requesting that the feds switch back to the COPS program which would fund local police forces.
Additionally, despite recruiting efforts by Landrieu and the NOPD, the police force has only added 18 new officers since July of 2014, with a total of 1,158 police officers. Landrieu made an effort back in 2013 to recruit more officers, in which he set a goal of 1,600 officers for the NOPD.
With Landrieu in the gubernatorial race, he would put pressure on the current lone Democratic candidate Rep. John Bel Edwards (D-Amite).
Though having name recognition, Landrieu’s record in New Orleans will, without a doubt, be propped up by opponents and characterized by voters as a career low-point.