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

Liuzza's Restaurant


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The Third Battle of New Orleans

List of over 100 Louisiana Blogs

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.

LA-2: Social and Regional Divides & #3 Endorses Jefferson

Today's Press Conference

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The Third Battle of New Orleans

List of over 100 Louisiana BlogsI'm looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of the local bloggers tomorrow afternoon to get a better understanding of the political landscape in the 2nd, but even my foreign eye recognized two key themes in the LA-2 run-off election: region and "social issues." I'm sure there's more, but these two were the most obvious earlier this afternoon at a press conference announcing the endorsement of Congressman Jefferson by State Senator Derrick Shepherd. Shepherd ran a close third in the primary election November 7 and fancies himself a bit of a kingmaker in the run-off. It was also pretty obvious he sees himself a candidate against either Carter or Jefferson in 2008.

Shepherd's primary viability and the importance of his endorsement has a lot of this has to do with the regional politics at play. In the second congressional district, around 30% of the registered voters come from Jefferson Parish where Shepherd is a State Senator, the rest come from Orleans. The percentage is probably even larger when you consider many residents from New Orleans still haven't returned post-Katrina. In the primary Shepherd received 34% of the parish votes -- Congressman Jefferson received 23% from the area and Karen Carter just eight percent. Here's where your memories from Katrina become quite relevant when discussing the regional political dynamics. Remember the story about the police officers with shotguns on the "other side of the bridge"blocking Katrina victims from New Orleans from crossing over and sening them back toward the Superdome and Convention Center? Well, they blocked them from entering Jefferson Parish, specifically Gretna, Louisiana. Gretna was the location for today's press conference, and among the political class (at least), there is little love loss for Karen Carter in that neck of the woods. Carter appeared in Spike Lee's documentary, "When the Levee's Broke" and pretty much blasted the Jefferson Parish police as un-American for stopping evacuees with shotguns and dogs after their two-hour hike across the bridge. While her words made her a hero to many, they didn't sit so well with some folks in the West Bank.
But the sheriff said he may work to defeat Carter because of her criticism of his deputies, who he says blocked the bridge to protect property and because there were no supplies or shelter for the evacuees on the West Bank. Evacuees countered that they had no intention of looting, and were simply seeking safety, but were stopped at gunpoint by Jefferson Parish law enforcement officers.

"It's personal between her and me," Lee said. "I'm thinking of getting some people together who she so severely affronted by running her foul mouth. I may spend some money and get the clip of Spike Lee's film and show what she said about those of us on this side of the river."
It's unclear to me how much Carter's appearance in the documentary hurt her on the other side of the river, and I'm excited to pursue that question with the local bloggers tomorrow afternoon. Lord knows there's been no shortage of mentions about it in the local press, but maybe it's impact has been sensationalized? We'll see. But for his part, I don't think Shepherd even mentioned the bridge one time in his endorsement of Congressman Jefferson -- for him, the focus was Carter's stance on social issues. He repeated no less than five times that he could not support a candidate who believed in gay marriage. Step back for a quick second. We're in the South, and Karen Carter is pro-gay marriage. That's a courageous position to take. She has also found considerable favor among the different women's groups, including EMILY's List. But the only person Shepherd mentioned as much as Jefferson or Carter at his press conference was himself, and he repeatedly insisted the current congressman was the best choice to lead the district "for the next two years." Admittedly, I came into the conference with a pre-conceived notion: this "major endorsement" was happening because the smart money is on the congressman's removal from office in the next two years (one way or another), and if Carter is elected a lot of political ambition will fall by the wayside with the returns. I left unmoved from that notion.

You'll find a bit of video from the press conference in the right-bar of this post. Congressman Jefferson also talked a lot about Karen Carter's role in the insurance problems plaguing Katrina victims ... to me it seemed a bit out of context and entirely over-stated, but it probably signals a coming attack line I haven't seen in any reading I've done about the race before arriving.

Oh! I almost forgot. After the press conference I spoke with Congressman Jefferson's Communications Director and asked her for an interview. She pretty much told me that it would happen. I'm going to email her tonight, but will be completely upfront about the fact MyDD has endorsed Karen Carter. My only promise will be to provide an unedited video of the interview if it's eventually granted. I'm particularly interested in hearing from some of the New Orleans bloggers on what questions they'd like to see asked and answered by the congressman.

LA-2 Blogs: Sinn Fein

"Ourselves Alone"
The third battle's got a great dish on the New Orleans Flag, and why you're seeing so many of them lately. I'll tell you why, because we are no longer Americans. We are New Orleanians.
NOLA Blogger Conference



Local New Orleans Bloggers
Your Right Hand Thief
Maitri's VatulBlog
Moldy City
Adrastos
The G Bitch Spot
Metro Blogging New Orleans
The American Zombie
Library Chronicles
People Get Ready
Ashley Morris
Wet Bank Guide
Tim's Nameless Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans

List of over 100 Louisiana BlogsWe have expectations of the newly elected Democratic majority, and so do the people of New Orleans. You'll find little discussion about the battle for Majority Leader on various NOLA blogs, but plenty of talk about Democratic pre-election promises for a post-Katrina Marshall plan. Less Reed/Levin, more Domenici/Landrieu. Indeed, the party made some big promises to the people of the Gulf Coast, and you can hear the constant refrain of "stay on their asses" coming from all corners of the local blogging community.

During the Hackett special election, the popular OH-2 blog did the heavy lifting and continues to hold Jean Schmidt accountable after August 2, 2005. In Connecticut, DumpJoe.com started long before any of us had ever heard of some guy named Ned Lamont, and sites like My Left Nutmeg and Connecticut Local Politics will continue to cover the local landscape long after we're done talking about him.

I guess the purpose of this post is to simply introduce you to some of the folks that are making it happen, online and offline, in New Orleans. I've spent the last few days reading a bunch of the local blogs and the closeness of the community is pretty amazing, if unsurprising given what they've been through together. To the right of most of my posts you'll find a bit of a local blogroll that I'll be updating daily. Today, for example, I added a link to Ashley Morris (one of the more articulate, entertaining and passionate bloggers in NOLA) and Tim's Nameless Blog. Tim lives in one of those FEMA trailers we've all heard about with his "Darling Wife" and Precious Daughter. I urge you to check both of them out if you get a chance. Tomorrow, I'll be taking a tour of some of the devastated areas and getting a primer on the local political scene from Oyster at Your Right Hand Thief and a few other local bloggers to be named later. And really, who better to give me a tour than a blogger who immediately blasted Stoller when MyDD announced they were sending me down here. That's my kind of guy ... a little more Stoller bashing could only serve to help everyone involved. Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention "Rising Tide," a blogger conference organized by the local community during August of 2006. The image linked above the blogroll will take you to the site for the conference. Pretty cool stuff.

I hope to have my first substantive post up on the LA-2 race later this evening. I'm about to head off to a press conference in Jefferson Parish where Derrick Shepherd, the third place finisher in the November election, will be endorsing the incumbent Congressman William Jefferson. The sentiment around here is that many of the endorsements for Jefferson from former candidates are because they expect to see him indicted and removed from office (voluntarily or involuntarily) before the 2008 elections. If Carter is elected, many would be kissing goodbye their shot at a congressional seat for many years to come. If Jefferson is re-elected, well, that leaves the door open for their own personal political ambitions. That's not to say that every endorsement of Jefferson is motivated by ambition, but it's a topic I hope to explore with the local bloggers tomorrow over lunch.

LA-2: On the ground

Karen Cater HQ


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Ashley MorrisSo ... I just arrived in Louisiana two hours ago and am writing from Karen Carter's campaign headquarters on Canal Street in New Orleans. This is my second time in the area post-Katrina, and it'll be interesting to see how much has changed since the DNC Spring Meeting took place down the street at the Sheraton.

Stoller set some ambitious goals for the next three weeks, and we'll see what we can't do about meeting those expectations. For starters, I'll be spending a good deal of time covering the Carter campaign ... hopefully giving the readers of MyDD a window into the effort. It's important to note that I will not be coordinating my posts with anyone on the campaign and am basically going to report what I see in text, photos and video. I don't work for Karen Carter, I am working for you.

Karen Carter for Congress
That said, Carter is the endorsed candidate and hopefully we'll be able to raise a bit of money for the campaign, recruit some volunteers and find other ways to help defeat "Dollar" Bill Jefferson. We all recognize it's high time to drain the swamp in D.C., and if the American people are ever going to believe we intend to clean up the House, we have to prove we are willing to clean out our own. It's no secret, the people of this area need a lot of help from strong representation in the Congress. Dollar Bill was stripped of his committee assignments by Democratic leadership in the last congress and there is no reason to believe the new Speaker will be moving to re-instate them anytime soon. As one local put it to me, "He [Jefferson] is like Eleanor Holmes Norton, but with a vote." To the extent that individual congressmen have their own levers of power inside the Capitol to deliver for their constituents, Jefferson is impotent -- and this area simply cannot afford impotence during this time in its history.

Post-Katrina
My second goal is to shed some light on post-Katrina conditions in and around New Orleans specifically. Unfortunately, the last scenes most of us beyond the border recall are of stranded Americans at the Convention Center followed up by platitudes and pledges made by our representatives to "Re-Cover, Re-Build, Re-New Orleans." I'm not native, so I'll be relying on members of the local community, online and offline, to act as guides over the next three and a half weeks. Which leads me to the next aim:

The Local Blogosphere
From what I can tell, there is a pretty tight knit community down here. It's always a bit awkward parachuting into a new state and writing as if I am some sort of authority on the important issues they've been covering for years now. I'm not ... they are, especially with everything they've been through over the past year. Hopefully we can use this platform to introduce you to some of key players locally who have been writing about the above long before my plane landed, and will continue doing so long after I head back up to Connecticut. As soon as I hit submit on this entry, the next order of business is to get in touch with a few of them and hopefully hook up this weekend. You'll find their work linked on the right side of nearly all my posts from Louisiana. Hopefully they are the sites you'll continue to visit when this race is over ... because we all know the rebuilding effort will last long past December 9th.

Stoller hit on race in his introductory post as well. I'm not quite sure what justice I can do the topic during a three and a half week stay, but from the little I've learned about the Carter/Jefferson campaign thus far, there are a number of interesting racial dynamics at play. Additionally, I hope to learn a bit more on the role undocumented workers are playing in the New Orleans re-construction effort.

Googlebombing CT-Sen

A few weeks ago Colin McEnroe invited Dan Gerstein and me to discuss blogs, the Internet(s) and our respective campaigns to his class at Trinity College.

Teh Google came up.

I turned to Dan, back to the class and said, "I really don't want to get too deep into this particular strategy ... eh, screw it, there's nothing you'll be able to do to counter the effort."

I then described GooglebombCT, a project we've been working on for a few months now.

Let me tell you, "Joe Lieberman" is a tough nut to crack on Google, but we've come a long way.  We've taken links out of nowhere and now dominate the second and third pages of the returns.  You think link is tough?  Try ten for Joe and ten for Ned.

Anyway.  Here's my ask ... I'll include the source code in the first comment.  Please embed it into the template of your blogs (side bar or footer are great!).  It might look unsightly for two weeks, but here's the vital statistics are far as our race in CT is concerned:

In the days before the August primary, seventy thousand! people visited NedLamont.com via Google.  Over 20,000 Googled "Joe Lieberman" inside CT alone.

Joe Lieberman has millions of dollars from those who profit from war, high gas prices and expensive medicine.  His 527 friends are free to distort Joe's record (in a positive way) and trash Ned on TV.  We'll fight with the tools we have.  All of them.

Bombs away!

Tim

There's more...

CT-Sen HQ: Come to Connecticut

Millionaire Lawyer Joe Lieberman is hiring 4,000 $taffer$ to carry out his ground strategy in the final days of the CT-Sen primary.  Rest assured, it's the best field plan (and literal votes) money can buy.  And no we find out the College REPUBLICANS are organizing for Joe in the primary.

If you can help if only for a single day, or can make a vacation out of it -- come to Connecticut anytime between now and election day.  

http://www.nedlamont.com/page/content/fi nalpush/

We need you now. Seriously, come see the kiss float, meet the CT bloggers, it will be a blast!

There's more...

CT-Sen: The Championship Rounds

(Tim Tagaris (me) is the Internet Communications Director for Ned Lamont's U.S. Senate Campaign) Bumped--Chris

Those who profit from war, high gas prices, and expensive medicine can now purchase more buttons, bumper stickers and television ads for Senator Lieberman (link). His imported field program, complete bus tickets and pay stubs, has doubled in size over the past two weeks (link).  More Washington, D.C. insiders are stepping up on behalf of the incumbent protection racket (link). 

If this were a prize fight, we'd be in the middle of the "championship rounds."  It's the point where both combatants stand toe to toe in the center of the ring and just duke it out, fists flying and the crowd on its feet as the clock winds down.

We're never going to spend as much money as Senator Lieberman -- in the era of Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay, he can keep his corporate lobbyist and political action committee cash.  We're also not going to treat local press with contempt, lying to their faces in the hope they act as little more than stenographers (link).

What we do have, is you.  Real grassroots support from inside the state of Connecticut.  It's support that doesn't come with a federally mandated W-2 form, just the trust that Ned Lamont will work to move this country forward and call for an end to Joe Lieberman's war.  There are two things we NEED you to do, right now.

1.) Participate in the "Family, Friends and Neighbor Program" (link)

2.) If you've already done it, invite your friends to use the tool as well. (link)

Friends talking to friends -- that's how we're going to win this race and elevate the discourse beyond the guttural politics of Senator Lieberman's campaign.  Besides, who really wants to re-elect a Senator who believes things are going better in Iraq, or would be the "first to salute" if we attacked Iran? (link) A vote for Joe is a vote for war.  A vote for Ned is a vote a return to sanity to our foreign policy.  That word needs to be spread far and wide. 

CT-Sen: From Inside (Outside) Campaign HQ in Meriden, CT

From the diaries--Chris

Hey hey, ho ho, everyone! Your latest dispatch from inside Ned Lamont campaign headquarters in Meriden, CT.  Here's on outline of what you'll find in the exended entry.

I. The important issues of the day in this campaign
II. Packed Houses
III. Who paid for that?
IV. Anti-Semitic smear campaign
V. By the Numbers
VI. Your tools for partiicpation

Other notes: Expect the newest Q-Poll probably on Thursday.  Check out the local blogging scene and firedoglake who is on-the-ground in CT.

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Pre-Convention Ned Lamont Primer

For what seemed like weeks, overcast skies, crisp autumn-like days, and the steady drumbeat of rain covered the Connecticut landscape.  Was it any coincidence that the day Ned Lamont's first two commercials hit the airwaves the sun peeked through the clouds and the rain resigned itself to come again another day?  Probably complete coincidence, but it wasn't by chance that today's trying times produced a leader who is truly starting a movement.

I'm probably like many of you.  My first bit of goodwill towards Ned Lamount was because of Joe Lieberman.  It was the ol' ham sandwich bit, "I'd support a ham sandwich over that guy." I even came to Connecticut thinking this was about Joe Lieberman ... I was wrong.  And I'm not the only one to enter the fray loathing Joe but ending up loving Lamont -- just ask Markos, Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller, C&L, Howie Klein, and Jane Hamsher ... names you trust online.

http://www.nedlamont.com

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OH-16: Getting into the Weeds

Since Matt invited me to post here occasionally, and I got the itch, I'm going to take him up on it again tonight.  The Hotline Blog mentioned a "nervous buzz" in Republican cirlces last night as an otherwise anonymous Matt Miller made it a long night for 33 year Republican incumbent Ralph Regula -- even the comments in the Ohio Election Thread were filled with talk of something special happening.  I don't want to keep it too long above the fold, but if you'd like to get into the weeds a bit on OH-16 (2006 & 2008) from the perspective of someone who worked there during the last cycle, follow me into the extended entry.  Consider it a poor man's "Better Know a District."

There's more...

Diaries

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