Pressure Rising In New Orleans Mayoral Race

Jan 17, 2014

More than 400 people packed a debate held at Dillard University where Mayor Mitch Landrieu highlighted accomplishments of his four-year term. His two challengers — NAACP New Orleans chapter President Danatus King and former judge Michael Bagneris — then slammed the incumbent for what they say is not being done.

Mayor Landrieu said his administration inherited a fiscal nightmare, but still avoided layoffs and created 4,500 new jobs.

“As happy as I am about the past four years, I’m much more excited about the next four,” said Landrieu.

Bagneris says growth is not evident in all areas of the city.

“Those 4,500 people must be part of the Landrieu family," said Bagneris.

King slammed Landrieu’s claim of improved transparency in city contracts.

“We run into stonewall after stonewall after stonewall," said King

University of New Orleans political science professor Ed Chervenak says the incumbent may be getting attacked, but he’s still got the upper hand with a 65 percent job approval rating.

“The mayor stayed on script. He promoted his record. His mantra tonight was ‘talk is cheap,' Chervenak said. "You’ve got to have a record to talk about, and he has the record to put out there and for voters to evaluate.”   

Four years ago Landrieu won in a landslide — winning outright in the primary against 10 other candidates.

Chervenak says this race is different.

“Typically you’re in the stronger position as the incumbent because you’re there," Chervenak said. "It’s your seat to lose and you have all the resources at your disposal.”

Chervenak says he expects the contest to get more heated because the election is just over two weeks away.

“They need to really get their message out there as quickly as possible," Chervenak said.

The Dillard debate was moderated by WDSU anchor Norman Robinson, and will be broadcast Friday night at 7 p.m.