Monday, March 13, 2006
The Associated Press
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The outcome of New Orleans' elections next month will resonate far beyond the city, with people around Louisiana looking to those results to determine their political futures, according to an expert in state politics.
The April 22 mayoral election in New Orleans will identify how many people are voting in the heavily-Democratic city, their race and their political party, LSU political scientist Wayne Parent said Monday.
That will give politicians an insight into just how far the political landscape has shifted since hurricanes Katrina and Rita and what type of electorate and fund-raising situations candidates may face in the 2007 governor's race, the 2007 legislative races when nearly half the seats are wide open because of term limits, and the U.S. Senate race in 2008, he said.
"On April 23rd, about 7,000 people are going to be deciding what they're going to be running for in the next five years," Parent told the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Parent said most political watchers will be more concerned with who's voting and where they're voting than with who wins the mayor's election and the fall congressional elections.
"Who votes will determine who runs," Parent said.
by Ed Anderson
"I think she is in an uphill battle," said Wayne Parent, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Louisiana State University and former chairman of its political science department.
Parent noted that Blanco's poll numbers have fallen based on disenchantment with her performance during and after the hurricanes. "I think that concerns a lot of Democrats" who might run on the same ballot as Blanco, he said.
Parent said with Katrina uprooting a large segment of the state's Democratic voter base in New Orleans, it is hard to get a handle on political handicapping.
With the Republicans expected to coalesce behind U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, as their candidate for governor, "a lot of money is going his way," Parent said, although Blanco has raised a "fair amount of money too." Blanco defeated Jindal 52 percent to 48 percent in 2003.
Parent said it is noteworthy that popular former U.S. Sen. John Breaux, a Democrat, is keeping his name alive as a possible gubernatorial candidate "by not saying no" to running for governor.
Parent said his strategy might be to scare off potential candidates "by holding a place for another Democrat if the governor decides not to run."