Thursday, April 13, 2006



By Gordon Russell
and Frank Donze

A slew of small billboards that look remarkably like those erected locally by Mayor Ray Nagin's campaign have begun springing up in and around Atlanta and Houston.

They read: "Re-elect Our Mayor" and feature a picture of hizzoner above the slogan: "Let's Keep New Orleans Moving Forward."

But according to both the Nagin campaign and the buyer of the signs -- 54 of them, to be exact -- the ad blitz is a completely independent effort that has no relationship to the campaign.

As a result, the sponsor, Sewerage & Water Board member Ben Edwards, has been able to spend well over the $5,000 that any individual can normally pour into an effort to elect a candidate.

In fact, Edwards -- a minister from the 9th Ward -- said he and members of his family have ponied up more than $100,000 so far, and they plan to spend more. Soon, he said, billboards and a radio ad supporting Nagin will be seen and heard in Baton Rouge and in the Memphis, Tenn., area.

OFF WITH THE GLOVES: Just in time for Passover and the Easter holiday weekend, the on-air mayoral campaign has gone negative.

The first TV attack ad was launched by Forman against Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, whom Forman repeatedly has described as his friend throughout the race.

The 30-second spot, which began airing Wednesday night, raises questions about Landrieu's support for taxes during his 16 years as a member of the state House, and refers to the low ratings Landrieu received from the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

The lone speaker in the ad identifies himself as a small contractor.

"We don't need a mayor who sees taxes as the answer to every problem," the man says as he loads painting supplies into the trunk of his car. "That's not how we rebuild New Orleans."

"We knew this day was going to come," Landrieu said in a prepared statement. "Ron is running a desperate campaign.

Forman does not appear or speak during the spot. His photo and the words "Forman for Mayor" flash on the screen at the outset.

LPNS COMMENTARY: As Forman's campaign begins to implode look for the dark horse to come up in the pack.

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