Troy Carter’s runoff beatdown of Karen Carter Peterson created a political volcanic eruption in New Orleans. As a result, the city’s politics have shifted dramatically and suddenly. Combine the fallout of that election with term limits and political ambition, and we have one of the most competitive election seasons in decades.
This week we will start with the best bank, the Westbank.
The Westbank is like the wild wild west. The Westbank has an open Senate seat, an open city council seat, and the state representative seat. The void created with all these open seats unleashed a new crop of politicians and political wannabes.
WILD WILD WESTBANK
Troy Carter’s victory created the first vacancy. The election for his Senate seat -which includes Algiers, and parts of Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes – features his nephew Gary Carter, Jr. as the frontrunner. Also, three candidates from Plaquemines parish – State Representative Mack Cormier, Patricia McCarty, and Joanna Cappiello-Leopold- qualified to run. Adding intrigue, Cormier just defeated Cappiello-Leopold’s husband to win the state rep district 105 seat. Nearly 70% of the voters will come from Algiers, where Carter is a household name. And Gary is the current representative. The primary is set for June 12th. The runoff if needed is July 10th. With the other candidates fighting primarily over less than 20% of the total electorate, expect Gary Carter to win outright in the primary.
When elected to the Senate seat, Gary Carter’s house seat would become available. His victory creates a conundrum for the Westbank wannabes. The governor will be required to hold a special election. A special election costs less and is easier to win. Fewer people pay attention and even fewer vote in special elections. Candidates need to motivate fewer supporters. Knocking on key doors, direct emails, targeted snail mail and radio advertising is enough to secure victory. So candidates can land a plush job on the cheap.
But Kristin Gisleson-Palmer has announced that she will run at large. Meaning her more powerful district city council seat will be vacant in the fall after the special election. Therein lies the conundrum. Running for a cheap special election will likely eliminate both the winner and the loser from serious consideration for her more desirable seat. For the winner, seat hopping is frowned upon. But for the loser having just lost an election for a legislative seat is not a resume builder for a run at the city council. Regardless the winner or the losers of the special election will each likely be $25,000- $40,000 lighter in the pockets. And none will be a serious contender for the city council. But they risk losing a better seat because they couldn’t afford or break through if they waited for the city council race. Poli-tricks!
Timing is a key ingredient in political victories. The list of Westbank wannabes includes some familiar names. But most will be first time entrants. Attorneys Freddy King, Stephanie Bridges, D’Juan Hernandez, and a city hall neighborhood engagement specialist Steven Musgrove are all interested in serving our city. Freddy King has worked in the community for the last few years with food and coat drives. Ms. Bridges narrowly lost a bid for a judgeship last fall, and Mr. Hernandez is an extraordinarily successful attorney. The biggest name, Roy Glapion, has not confirmed his intention to run. Glapion is an engineer and a self made businessman. His father previously represented District D on the council. If he qualifies, he would immediately become the frontrunner.
AT LARGE SEAT ATTRACTS BIG NAMES
Kristin Gisleson-Palmer is a big fish jumping into a pond with other big fish. The unexpired At-Large term left when Jason Williams was elected District Attorney is one of the most powerful seats in city government. She will face another city council member Jared Brossett and former state senator J.P. Morrell. All Democrats, this contest may come down to race in the primary and turnout in the runoff.
We will examine the At-Large race, plus upcoming races in the other city council districts in the weeks. Stay tuned.