Sunday, March 12, 2006


N.O.- Being Republican is nothing to apologize for

Stephanie Grace


If three's a crowd, what do you call 23?

The point is that before now, Republicans would have been relegated to the fringe of any mayor's race in overwhelmingly Democratic New Orleans. Not this year. With the post-Katrina electorate projected to be more white and more conservative than in the past, a couple of well-known Republicans are not only running, they're talking like being Republican is nothing to apologize for.

There's lawyer Rob Couhig, who responded to Landrieu's talk of public-private partnerships during the WGNO debate by accusing him, his ex-mayor father and U.S. Senator sister of espousing a philosophy of "entitlement as opposed to empowerment."

Not to be outdone was former City Councilwoman Peggy Wilson, who invoked the spirit of Ronald Reagan when she announced that "welfare queens" had better stay away from her New Orleans, along with gang members and pimps.

If that sounds like racial code -- and it clearly did to one debate moderator, anchor Michael Hill, who labeled her language "hot button" -- Wilson has company. Nagin, of course, did the same thing when he reminded voters at an NAACP event in Houston that most of the other candidates "don't look like us"...

And if Clerk of Criminal Court Kimberly Williamson Butler is going to continue to play the persecution card -- and her exit-from-jail interview comparing herself to Gandhi and Nelson Mandela confirmed that she will -- well, Wilson sure knows how to play that game too.

This is what Wilson said when the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce didn't invite her to join... their Thursday lunch: "It appears that the Chamber is color bound, not color blind. They want a blackout of all new ideas like my tax-free city plan."

Nagin's message was that he was on the ground as Katrina struck, overseeing what he repeatedly referred to as a successful evacuation, and that he launched the city on the road to the recovery. Landrieu's message was that he was here too, rescuing stranded residents in the first wet days (with a camera crew along for the ride, as evidenced by footage in his first televised ad)... He and Forman both talked about the need for competence, consistency and credibility out of City Hall, but they avoided attacking the mayor directly.

LPNS COMMENTARY: The Landrieu camp issued a clarification in the Times-Pic today saying that they ran into the camera crew "by chance." FAT CHANCE


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