Sunday, May 21, 2006

Let me try to explain Nagin's re-election

Bloggers, such as Michelle Malkin, all around the blogosphere this morning are astonished that Ray Nagin won re-election. I am going to try to explain how it happened.

The first thing you have to do is go back to the days before Katrina. Ray Nagin was a conservative businessman who was actually a very good mayor for New Orleans. He was fighting the in-grained corruption that has plagued the city for decades. It was a hard fight, but slowly he was gaining ground.

Then came Katrina. I'm sure that you are all thinking of those pictures of the flooded buses, right? Well, I don't think the nation understands how little time we had to put plans into action. Yes, we had years to prepare, but we only had 2, yes TWO, days to put those plans into action. In contrast, with Hurricane Rita, Houston started to evacuate a full week before the storm was projected to hit land. As of Friday night before Katrina, we were still being told that the storm was going to Florida. We woke on Saturday to full panic mode. NO ONE WAS PREPARED! I think that this fact has been lost in the aftermath.

That being said, could things have been better handled by the mayor? Absolutely, without a doubt. Could Nagin have been a better leader in the immediate aftermath and in the months following Katrina? Absolutely, without a doubt.

Obviously, many people thought that was the case, too. So many, in fact, that New Orleans was faced with 23 candidates to choose from in the primary election. With so many candidates, no one could gain much traction and the two with the most name recognition headed into the runoff.

Voters in New Orleans were faced with Nagin and Mitch Landrieu. The conservatives in New Orleans had a very tough choice. Judging from the calls into local talk shows, and the results of the election, many New Orleaneans were voting against Mitch Landrieu. The thought of another Landrieu as mayor of New Orleans was a worse scenario than the re-election of Ray Nagin.

Let's look at Mitch Landrieu. He comes from an extremely liberal political family. Some have even referred to the Landrieus as the Kennedys of Louisiana. The national Democratic Party was heavily supporting his run for mayor, over that of the incumbent Democratic mayor. Why would they do that? Because, if Mitch is mayor of New Orleans, it would help greatly with the re-election of his sister, Mary, to the Senate. Mitch's defeat, I believe, also sends a message to Mary. I think that she is going to have an up-hill battle.

Many in New Orleans also want to get out from under the corruption that has held the city and the state captive. Electing a Landrieu would be a step back instead of forward.

Did some voters vote race? I have no doubt. New Orleans hasn't had a white mayor in many years and a certain faction of voters don't want there to ever be another one. Of course, the same is true on the flip side. Some voters voted for Mitch because he was white. There is no denying that. There are racial tensions here. I'm sure it will make some angry to hear that, but, sorry folks, it's true. But, for many remaining in the city, it came down to the vote between a liberal and a somewhat conservative.

I would have loved to seen a change, but, given the choices, I think Nagin was the lesser of the two evils. Before the storm hit, Nagin was a good mayor. Obviously, the New Orleans' voters are hoping to see that good mayor again soon.

Update: Laura over at Dummocrats defends the re-election of Nagin, too.