LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

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Today I joined a few of the local bloggers for lunch at Liuzza's (pictured, click to enlarge), a tour of some of the flood affected areas, and a discussion about the dynamics in the 2nd Congressional District run-off between Karen Carter and Congressman William Jefferson. Before I get into that, I want to note that I spoke with Congressman Jefferson's Communications Director again today, and we're on for the interview early this week.

The local bloggers (Your Right Hand Thief, Maitri's VatulBlog, Adrastos, Ashley Morris) and I spoke about a number of the important issues informing the decisions of voters in the run-off election. In addition to the regional and social issues dividing voters, the notion of "delivering" for the people of New Orleans (and the West Bank) is also a factor. The people of this area obviously need help, monetarily and otherwise. In addition to re-building portions of the city, there's an expectation the levee walls will be re-built protect against Category Five storms. The cost, as we've all seen, will be substantial. As corruption charges began to really swirl around the head of Congressman Jefferson, Democrats stripped him of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Short of the hope a freshly minted Democratic controlled congress will place a priority on rebuilding the city (and other affected Gulf Coast areas), the importance of individual representation within the halls cannot be overstated.

We also talked a bit about the political organizations that exist within the second district. Within the Democratic Party itself, there are multiple "clans" that all have political and GOTV implications of their own. Carter is a member of BOLD -- Jefferson a member of the "Progressive Democrats." Don't let the nomenclature fool you, there isn't much progressive about Jefferson's organization. In fact, on social issues, Jefferson is tacking to the right and blasting Carter (often through surrogates) over her liberal stance when it comes to abortion, stem cell research and gay marriage. When it comes to economic issues, they are both DLC members. I've also heard conflicting reports about the importance of churches and the role they play in mobilizing voters. Best I can tell, in the East Bank (New Orleans area) it's the organizations like BOLD and the "Progressive Democrats" that have the ability to turn voters out to the polls. In the West Bank, it's the churches. During yesterday's endorsement of Congressman Jefferson by State Senator Derrick Shepherd, they were surrounded by no less than five men of the cloth who each took at a turn at the mic; each quite outspoken; each with a body of followers best described as extended family as opposed to simply a congregation. Indeed, the local bloggers believed that Jefferson's support among clergy in the West Bank is a good part of what propelled him to a strong third place primary showing.

After the discussion over a few frosty mugs at Liuzza's, we headed down to the "Lower 9th Ward" we've all heard so much about. It was devastating. Just awful. While we were there we saw cars with license plates from New York and Georgia driving around an area just simply decimated. They called it the "misery tour," and I guess I was on it as well. I'll have video and pictures up tomorrow, but to extend it beyond the simple voyeuristic peek at the destruction and a reminder of what Congress should be doing, a few local folks will talk about the progress made in clearing out the debris and rebuilding the levee that failed (barge crash) which caused the flooding in the Lower 9th.

Tags: karen carter, LA-2, William Jefferson (all tags)

Comments

15 Comments

Lower 9th

Tim,

What is the status of the investigation into Jeferson and the $100K in cash that he had stashed in the icebox?  If that matter is still unresolved, it seems damn silly for the voters to send him back to Washington only to have him resign in humiliation as a result of corruption charges.

by global yokel 2006-11-18 03:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th
It is still unresolved. He is basically saying, "hey look, they've been investigating and investigating me, but still no charges..." There is a lot of loyalty to Jefferson in the African-American community, and the matter doesn't seem to impact his standing too much there. Among the white community, Carter does a lot better. I'll have more on this topic as I learn more. Until then, TPM has a good run-down.

http://tpmmuckraker.com/jefferson.php

Tim
by Tim Tagaris 2006-11-18 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

This had better not be a replay of the mayoral race, where blacks voted for Nagin and whites voted for Landrieu, resulting in a 52-48 Nagin victory. The racism in that was just plain sad.

by raginillinoian 2006-11-18 03:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th
It just might be ... I don't know exactly why there is such a racial divide in this election, but another underlying meme is that Carter is "the white candidate." Nola.com has the primary vote breakdown by race. There's no question a divide exists, but it hasn't bubbled up onto the surface like I hear it did during the mayoral race.

Tim
by Tim Tagaris 2006-11-18 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

How can Carter be the "white candidate"?

by raginillinoian 2006-11-18 08:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

It was not as simple as "blacks voted for Nagin and whites voted for Landrieu, resulting in a 52-48 Nagin victory." (Your comments smacks of "how could they be so STOOpid" but I am giving you the benefit of the doubt b/c words on a screen don't always carry the intended tone.) Whites voted for Nagin, too, and if you look at his financial support base, you'll see white Republicans. Nagin played the race card despite his financial support base and despite the fact that there were and are anti-Landrieu whites who will vote for anyone but a Landrieu. He played that card to win, period.

The sad racism here is far more than one damn election. The real sad racism of the mayoral race is that blacks helped put him in office and he's barely paid lip service to the majority of black folks here and dispersed. Same bullshit, (slightly) different color.

Tim, have you talked to Dambala yet?

by G Bitch 2006-11-19 06:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

It was not as simple as "blacks voted for Nagin and whites voted for Landrieu, resulting in a 52-48 Nagin victory." (Your comments smacks of "how could they be so STOOpid" but I am giving you the benefit of the doubt b/c words on a screen don't always carry the intended tone.) Whites voted for Nagin, too

News reports on the results claimed it was the white vote that put Nagin over the top.  Presumably that meant that Nagin only needed a sufficient sliver of such a vote.

The real sad racism of the mayoral race is that blacks helped put him in office and he's barely paid lip service to the majority of black folks here

Probably not doing a whole lot more for the "white liberals" who the press imagined kept Nagin in office.

That kind of politics never changes.  

Splashed across the national stage, dirtbird William Jefferson is conflated with Alcee Hastings though the two seem to have little more in common than the pigmentation of their skin and that of their constituents.

Even liberals are caught up in the tenor of the zeitgeist.

Pity.

I would like to make it clear that I think Tim Tagaris is doing yeoman service and see no cause to complain that he is denigrating anyone for the color of their skin.  Easy enough to find otherwise if one has a mind to look for it.  Of course that is just my own point of view.

Best,  Terry

by terryhallinan 2006-11-20 01:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

It wasn't white liberals who voted for Nagin necessarily. Nagin was, and still really is, a Republican. Look at the people he surrounded himself with after the race, and even before.

by G Bitch 2006-11-21 03:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Lower 9th

The only part of my comment directed at Tim was the question at the bottom. Tim is doing a great job ("yeoman service"?). My comment was directed at the word choice and implied warrants of the comments/commenters.

by G Bitch 2006-11-24 05:00AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

Tim,

Thanks for the reply.   Seems to me this is a good opportunity for the new leadership in the House to stand up for ethical conduct and do everything they can to insure that Jefferson doesn't come back to Washington.

by global yokel 2006-11-18 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

If I were Pelosi, I would be not only helping Carter's campaign (which she is probably doing, albeit quietly), and I would give the Intel Committee chairmanship to Silvestre Reyes, not Alcee Hastings.

That way you replace a beleaguered Democrat with a clean one, and avoid the bad publicity of a formerly-impeached judge as chairman of a highly sensitive and crucial committee.

Just my two cents.

by raginillinoian 2006-11-18 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

There are obvious political problems with that too.  Most obvious is the appearance of the white Pelosi trying to get rid of the black Jefferson, and keeping the black Hastings out of an important committee chairmanship.  It may look to you like a leader working against corruption, but that's hardly the only possible perception.

by libdevil 2006-11-18 06:07PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th
Actually, the Mayor's race featured substantial racial crossover voting for both Nagin and Landrieu. Nagin (who was a Republican until her ran for Mayor) was re-elected by a coalition of poor blacks and conservative  whites. Landrieu's support largely came from Middle Class blacks and liberal whites.
Nagin's coalition is one of the weirdest I've ever seen but that's New Orleans...
by Adrastos 2006-11-18 08:01PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

My gosh -- one certainly has to go through a lot of foolishness just to post a comment here!

Anyway, be careful how you characterize the levee failure in the Lower 9th. The barge claim is highly dubious.

Focus on the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. You'll need a map to understand what happened, or better, view The Times-Picayune movie.

Generally, in New Orleans, levee walls failed, whereas in New Orleans East and St. Bernard Parish, it was levee overtopping that caused flooding.

I suspect that the barge floated through the breach, although it may have been pounding against the sheetpiling. Still, there are no eyewitness accounts that I know of where people say they  heard the pounding of the barge against the wall. What people do say they heard was an explosion (like dynamite). That was the sound of the sheetpiling exploding from the force of a Category 5 storm surge forced up the tunnel of the MRGO and into the Industrial Canal adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward.

Furthermore, we need to be clear that what happened was a combination of natural forces, and manmade institutional failures by the Corps of Engineers project implementation, as well as (I'm not afraid to say) a long-term complacency by citizens and the press to pay attention to what was happening with those levee projects.

We need to fix the institutional failures before the engineering failures can expect to be properly fixed.

Finally, take a look at my GIS analysis of voting trends which illustrated the racial composition of Nagin support.

by schroeder915 2006-11-19 09:47AM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Run-Off Run-Down and the Lower 9th

Cold cash

by schroeder915 2006-11-19 11:26AM | 0 recs

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