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Murray exit makes Democrats calmer, Landrieu favorite

From a questionable position, suddenly Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu can be considered the favorite to do what he could not four years ago, win the New Orleans mayor’s contest, perhaps by being the beneficiary of larger forces.

As noted previously, even with his long experience and family name, Landrieu could not be considered the favorite for the spot unless no high-quality black opponent emerged, somebody with elective policy-making experience in government. Several passed on it, but one who got in the chase was state Sen. Edwin Murray and seemed like the best bet to make a runoff against Landrieu, who unexpectedly entered the fray less than a month ago. If so, an enormous edge in black voting registration would have made it difficult for Landrieu to secure the win.

However, Murray with little warning pulled out of the race, leaving only three black candidates that have any real opportunity to make a runoff – former judge Nadine Ramsey, activist James Perry, and businessman Troy Henry. Only Ramsey has ever run and won a political office, unopposed in three terms as a judge so she really has no successful competitive campaign experience. Murray hinted that difficulty in raising funds since the entrance of Landrieu led to what he thought would be a personally too-expensive race for him as well as he cited the potential for “racially divisive” rhetoric becoming a feature of the race.

In other words, Murray may have been a victim of national political trends that may have made Democrats look bad. Given his entrance just prior to his sister Sen. Mary Landrieu’s crucial votes to allow health care legislation that would raise premiums, taxes, and lower the quality of care to advance, it’s theorized that part of Mary’s motivation for supporting the bad legislation was promises for Democrat fat cats to contribute to Mitch and not to Murray. Then, Murray fell on his sword to prevent Democratic infighting that might damage the already rapidly-souring Democrat hopes later in 2010.

Unless one of the remaining black candidates can hurriedly demonstrate some major fundraising prowess, the election environment otherwise will create momentum for some blacks, who almost double up on whites in the electorate, to go with Landrieu and discourage others from turning out, giving Landrieu the ability to win. Henry might be the best placed, being an outsider of government with a successful business background to contrast with the insider Landrieu and the current regime running the city into the ground again.

The problem is, the one who is encouraging the present follies in city government was before assuming the city’s top job was an outsider with a business background, Mayor Ray Nagin. New Orleanians historically put insiders into the position so the chance they took on Nagin, twice, may have soured them on the kind of candidate that is Henry.

Regardless, Landrieu’s biggest obstacle is out of the way and unless something happens soon where support suddenly coalesces around a black candidate, he has established himself as the most likely to collect eventually on his dream post.

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