Monday, May 22, 2006

Ray Nagin Secretly Targeted by Party Leader Howard Dean

Reports are just breaking that the Democratic National Committee secretly worked to prevent Ray Nagin from winning the recent mayoral election in New Orleans.  Evidently, Howard Den himself decided to back Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA) against Nagin, both with campaign funds and by utilizing political operatives inside the city of New Orleans to work against the Nagin campaign.  

Dean’s efforts evidently were unsuccessful, as Nagin retained his seat by winning the election in New Orleans on Saturday. But Dean’s efforts were not ineffectual; Matt Drudge has determined that Landrieu raised $3.3M for his campaign, versus $541k for Nagin, with finance reports indicating that most of Landrieu’s contributions came from out of state.  It is still unclear what role was played by the political operatives.

As Drudge breaks this story, it’s not entirely surprising to find that life-long Democrat Ray Nagin is now moving towards the right, courting conservative voters by turning to his business background as opposed to Landrieu’s strictly political background.  Nagin predicts a huge boom in the local economy, as money pours in to reconstruct the area, presenting many opportunities for business owners.

And while the election was predominantly split along racial lines, Nagin was able to carry approximately 20% of his opposite demographic, predominantly business people who had originally threatened to leave New Orleans if Nagin was elected, but who were won over by his vision for the improved economy.

"Business people are predators, and if the economic opportunities are here, they're going to stay. If not, they're going to leave," said Nagin, in his now famous vernacular style. "I don't worry about that stuff. I think there's enough interest around the country that we're going to attract top businesses. ... God bless them. I hope they stay, but if they don't, I'll send them a postcard."

Nagin is promising to repair the city, not only the structures, but the spirit.  This means building bridges with a variety of political leaders, including President Bush, who called to congratulate Nagin after the election, and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.  But it also means working with all segments of the New Orleans community.

"We're going to bring this city together. It's my intention to reach out to every segment of this community," Nagin said a day after defeating Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu. "This is our shot. This is our time."

Earlier this year, Ray Nagin presented a comprehensive plan for rebuilding the city and creating a more prosperous, economically balanced community. Those efforts have stalled as funding had been delayed until a mayor was chosen by the city, preventing the dedication of money to a project that may not have been implemented.  Now that the election is completed, Nagin is putting together a commission to prioritize efforts.

Doesn’t this beg the question of why Dean would target his party-member Nagin in the mayoral election? These all seem like efforts in the correct direction for the Big Easy. Why attempt to unseat the mayor who has been doing his best to survive the political disaster that followed the natural disaster in his city? I must admit, it makes little sense to me.  

Perhaps Dean should worry about beating the Republicans instead of attacking other Democrats.  This type of maneuver does nothing but divide the party and make Democrats look like fools in the eyes of the nation. Of course, the story is just breaking, and we’ll have to wait until it unfolds further to determine the full scope of Dean’s maneuvers. But at present, it looks like Dean really made an error in judgment attacking Nagin’s reelection campaign.

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Posted by Scottage at 12:52 AM / | |