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Nagin wilting, Hightower wondering, Malone waiting

It doesn’t look like things will be going Ray Nagin’s way in his battle to win reelection as New Orleans mayor. I had postulated that Nagin could do so by collecting a good turnout of displaced voters (as well as hope the defeated Rob Couhig’s vote, probably almost all conservative Republicans, would split between him and challenger Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu to stay home).

However, early indications are that the displaced votes are running a little behind their totals from the primary – a normal expectation, but not one that would help Nagin. Further, the majority have gotten cast in Orleans Parish, where Landrieu is disproportionately stronger, probably from people who would have gotten on May 20 anyway but did so early for convenience.

Unless a big surge in displaced voters occurs, Nagin is unlikely to win, meaning Landrieu would be leaving his lieutenant governor’s office. That represents an opportunity for Shreveport Mayor Keith Hightower, who has been casting about for a political career after he leaves office at the end of the year. Even as Hightower continues to say he’s going back to the car business, he keeps raising money and he even spent tens of thousands on ads touting his presumed accomplishments as mayor.

But one job he did express interest in was that of being appointed lieutenant governor (by Gov. Kathleen Blanco to fill the unexpired term) if Landrieu left early. However, that more likely would go to former U.S. Rep. Chris John, who has a higher statewide profile by virtue of his failed attempt for the U.S. Senate and has worked more closely with Blanco on state Democrat affairs.

If so, I postulated awhile back that Hightower would turn his attention to the state Senate District 37, currently occupied by term-limited Republican Max Malone. And what are Malone’s plans? That he plans to hold a fundraiser that cannot be for his Senate seat may indicate he plans to run for mayor of Shreveport.

But with two serious Republicans already in the contest in former City Attorney Jerry Jones and current city Economic Development Coordinator Arlena Acree, and also Vernon Adams who polled 25 percent of the vote in 2002, in an electorate half-comprised of black voters, might this have him thinking about another office? Might he challenge Democrat Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell who gives every indication that he will exhaust his resources on a quixotic bid for governor in 2007?

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