Ray Nagin, who came up so short during Hurricane Katrina, has been re-elected mayor of New Orleans. Nagin captured 53 percent of the vote to defeat Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. The defeated candidate is the son of Moon Landrieu, the last white mayor of New Orleans (nearly 30 years ago), and is the brother of the current Senator from Louisiana.
A recent Tulane University poll had shown Landrieu leading Nagin by 10 percentage points. But the race was hard to predict because the electorate was scattered by Katrina, and no one was sure of the extent to which it had returned. In this context, the concept of “turnout” took on a new meaning, as voters were bused in from as far away as Texas.
Having witnessed Marion Barry repeatedly elected mayor of Washington, D.C., I can’t say I’m surprised at Nagin’s success. Re-electing an unsuccessful or disgraced mayor apparently can become a source of civic pride, particularly when the racial politics are right.