Reports the Times-Picyaune:
Handing New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin perhaps his most formidable political challenge to date, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu has decided to place his name on the April ballot, a key Landrieu supporter said Monday. While Landrieu is expected to publicly announce his candidacy in a written statement this week, a source said a formal declaration with a kickoff event and a campaign speech likely won't come until after the Legislature's special session set for Feb. 6-17.
The mayoral primary has been scheduled for April 22, with a runoff, if needed, on May 20. Qualifying for the race will be March 1-3. Before Hurricane Katrina, Nagin was considered a virtual lock to win a second four-year term. But the city's slow recovery from the disaster and Nagin's missteps -- most notably his notorious "chocolate city" speech on Martin Luther King Day -- have made him highly vulnerable in the eyes of many political handicappers.
We're beginning to agree with the latter assessment and may have to renounce one of our initial political predictions for 2006. Nagin's profile was looking pretty good until he went off the rhetorical deep end recently - we suspect the whole post-Hurricane affair may have overwhelmed him. We also thought that maybe Nagin, once a Republican, may have been gauging Evangelical votes while considering a future state wide run. Still, the fact that Mitch Landrieu, brother of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), decided on a run for Mayor of the much Whiter, new, improved, rebuilt New Orleans should be of serious concern not only to Nagin, but to the Black political elite in Crescent City. For years, the African American political establishment dismissed opportunities to seriously address generations of poverty in their city. The consequences of that inaction (and the years of corruption) are becoming very clear in this impending political battle.