Nagin, Landrieu advance to runoff in New Orleans mayoral election

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ray Nagin

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Secretary of State Mitch Landrieu will most likely face each other in a May 20 runoff election for mayor of New Orleans.

With all 442 precincts reporting from elections on Saturday, Nagin has reportedly received 41,489 votes (38%), leading all candidates but falling short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Landrieu received 31,499 votes (29%); Ron Forman, 18,734 votes (17%). All three are Democrats.

Nagin, 49, was first elected in 2002 on a platform of fighting government corruption, but he has since become better known for leading the recovery effort in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. At the same time, he has come under criticism for certain remarks, such as asserting that New Orleans would remain a "chocolate city" with an African-American majority.

Nagin said that he was "humbled by the support from this community," and called on New Orleanians to "bring this city together ... it's time for black and white, Hispanic and Asian, everybody to come together for one New Orleans. It's time for us to stop the bickering."

Landrieu, 45, brother of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and son of former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu, said, "Tonight, we take the second step on this journey back home, and I ask all New Orleanians to join with me in this march as we proclaim to America that New Orleans will be rebuilt."

Forman pledged to "work day and night with either Mitch or Ray to rebuild this city."

A special challenge in this election was bringing together New Orleans residents displaced by the catastrophic flooding in the aftermath of Katrina. It is estimated that nearly six out of every ten residents still registered to vote in New Orleans live outside the city.

Polling was held at 76 polling stations (compared with 262 four years ago) and ten satellite stations were opened throughout the state for absentee voting. Civil rights groups challenged the plan, and instead advocated for polling stations to be setup in Houston and Atlanta where many displaced residents now live. State officials and federal courts rejected the plan, citing legal questions.