Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 22, 2006
POLITICS: The Black Sheep of the Democratic Party?
So, New Orleans has re-elected Ray Nagin, defeating fellow Democrat Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco's #2, the brother of Louisiana's senior senator, Mary Landrieu, and son of former New Orleans Mayor and Carter-era HUD Secretary Moon Landrieu. There are many things to be said about this race, and what it says about New Orleans' voters and Louisiana's byzantine politics after Hurricane Katrina and the relative standing of Nagin, Blanco and Mary Landrieu. For example, Paul at Wizbang - who knows New Orleans first hand - says that a Nagin victory spells doom for Mary Landrieu's hold on her Senate seat in 2008.
What's interesting tonight is that Matt Drudge is reporting that the Democratic National Committee worked behind the scenes against Nagin. (Paul's response: "Duh!"). This being Drudge, one can never be 100% certain, and of course Howard Dean is hardly going to publicly admit that he not only tried to run a Democratic incumbent out of office, but failed miserably in the attempt.
Why did Dean try to unseat Nagin? If you buy Paul's logic that this is bad news for the national Democrats because Landrieu wanted to rebuild New Orleans' slums and a Nagin-led New Orleans may not be as friendly turf for statewide and national Democrats who need it to have a chance in Louisiana, then the partisan logic is clear. Moreover, Nagin is a former Republican who endorsed Bush in 2000, and DNC loyalists may have felt he was an unreliable party man.
Or, perhaps the pull of family and the DC social circuit was a factor here: Landrieu's father and sister both served in Washington, and nobody in Ray Nagin's family has those kind of ties with the DNC old-boy network. Which brings us to why this could be really embarrassing if (hypothetically, of course) other news sources actually looked into this, and if they then discovered that the DNC did what Drudge said they did. Because, you see, Ray Nagin is black, and Mitch Landrieu is white. White like nearly everyone in Howard Dean's administrations in Vermont. White like Howard Dean's senior campaign advisers - and most of his supporters in 2004. And even forget Dean: imagine if the national GOP backed a member of a prominent Republican family against an African-American incumbent Republican elected official. We would never hear the end of it. It would be Selma, Alabama all over again. (Heck, some Democrats still complain that Republicans are racist for supporting George W. Bush over John McCain, who is roughly the color of Elmer's glue, in the South Carolina primary in 2000). And let's not ask how many Maryland Democrats are supporting Ben Cardin over Kweisi Mfume, when Maryland has never elected an African-American Democrat to statewide office.
Like I said: it's Drudge, and Drudge isn't always right. Further investigation is in order. But will the national media dig into this story and ask Howard Dean what Ray Nagin did to become the black sheep of the Democratic party?
UPDATE: The Raw Story (sorry, no permalink) says that, unsurprisingly, the DNC is denying any involvement. There are also rumblings about consulting lawyers, but if the Democratic Party files a lawsuit that opens up discovery of its activities in a Louisiana election, I'll eat my hat.