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Monday, May 22, 2006

Tea leaves from New Orleans

--posted by Tony Garcia on 5/22/2006

OK, so Mayor Ray Nagin won his bid for re-election. He defeated Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu 59,460 votes (52 percent) to 54,131 (48 percent). This was about 38% voter turnout. Ray Nagin endorsed previously in the Governor's race the Republican candidate (Rep. Bobby Jindal) back in 2004...so is a conservative? (I ask that based on the standards that Republicans have set forth in Minnesota...you must back the party people or your philosophies are labeled differently.) Nagin received an important endorsement from conservative Republican businessman Robert Couhig in this election. And according to a Drudge Report flash story the DNC was working against Nagin.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) secretly placed political operatives in the city of New Orleans to work against the reelection efforts of incumbent Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean made the decision himself to back mayoral candidate and sitting Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu (D-LA), sources reveal.

Dean came to the decision to back the white challenger, over the African-American incumbent Nagin, despite concerns amongst senior black officials in the Party that the DNC should stay neutral.

The DNC teams actively worked to defeat Nagin under the auspice of the committee's voting rights program.
Take that for what it is worth, however there could be some interesting tealeaf reading from this seemingly distant election.

The DNC, if Drudge is right, lost in its effort to defeat what should have been a very vulnerable Mayor. Does this mean the Democrats are not exactly primed for a huge takeover this November?

It could be. A very compelling opinion piece by Dustin Hawkins concludes with:
The campaign themes laid out by the Democrats are less of the Contract with America variety and more of the wild-conspiracy and threat-of-impeachment variety, delivering a message that does not resonate with middle America. The result is that Americans may want change, but are incapable of relating with the alternative choice.

Republicans have no business walking out of November with control of the government, but Democrats seem all too willing to take themselves out of the game.
His premise is that the GOP may be REALLY down, but they are not out. The GOP is shunning its fiscal conservative base, its anti-illegal immigration base (at least the Senate GOP is), its small government base and so on. But he writes that even with the GOP being on the ropes (and deservedly so in many cases) the Democrats seem to be poised to NOT deliever a knock out punch but continue resting on their own ropes.

I think this may actually be the case with 2006. The GOP deserves to lose for 'dissing' its base on so many fronts, but the DNC deserves to lose for distancing themselves from the all-to-important middle of the political spectrum.

New Orleans' mayoral election seems to support this. Here was a vulnerable mayor running for re-election. The candidate was more weigthed with the GOP and conservatives with regard to endorsements. The candidate was also targeted by the DNC (if Drudge is correct). This seems to support the idea that while neither party deserves to be in power the GOP will retain it by default.

But then again Nagin was one of the Republican punching bags of the Katrina aftermath. Was this a sympathy vote? Was it a backlash? This election is too hard to read. But it may be the beginning of the tea leaves for this year's elections only 6 months away...which is an eternity in the course of politics.


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