Sunday, March 05, 2006


"Very few of them look like us,"


HOUSTON, Texas (Reuters) -- In a sign of the times for his storm-stricken city, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin campaigned for re-election Saturday in Houston, Texas.

Nagin is one of 23 candidates in one of the more unusual mayoral elections in U.S. history because most of the voters now live in other cities.

So it was that Nagin, a Democrat who was elected mayor in 2002, was in Houston seeking votes for the April 22 ballot.

"It's a local election that is on a national stage, which is very unusual. Nobody's ever had to go through this," he told reporters.

In a speech organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People civil rights group, Nagin discussed the recovery of New Orleans and explained the complicated absentee voting procedures for those who have not returned to the city.

Nagin, who sparked controversy recently by saying New Orleans would become a "chocolate city" again, told the mostly black audience of about 50 people that the election could bring a sea change to New Orleans politics, which has been dominated by blacks for more than two decades.

"There are 23 candidates running for mayor. Very few of them look like us," he said. "There's a potential to be a major change in the political structure in New Orleans."

Political experts say Nagin's re-election chances may hinge on his ability to mobilize the black evacuee vote because many of those who have returned to New Orleans are whites who lived in the French Quarter and Uptown sections largely untouched by Katrina.

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