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ERROL LABORDE: Endorsements with a twist

If ever there were any doubts about why democracy works, look at the latest endorsements in the mayoral runoff- a Republican backed the black candidate and a black minister endorsed the white candidate. Fourth-place finisher Rob Couhig’s endorsement of Ray Nagin and the Reverend Paul S. Morton’s selection of Mitch Landrieu could help both candidates gather votes where they need help most.
Now the question is, will the voters follow their leaders? The loyalty that voters have to a defeated candidate is probably not as deep as that of members of a congregation for their minister, so in that sense Morton, whose Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church, is the largest black congregation in the city, may be able to deliver more votes than Couhig.
On the other hand, some white voters who are nervous about the influence that ministers have in local politics might be prompted to follow Couhig’s lead.
Either way, it is healthy when in politics both sides go out of their way to reach for the other. It is also healthy that this is all being done in public. White politicians have long sort the support of black ministers, but in the days before the Civil Rights bill that was always done quietly, behind the scenes. Now the receiving of such an endorsement is worthy of a well-publicized news conference.
Going into the final days there is a sense that while Landrieu might be the slight favorite, Nagin can still win. The race could be very close.
When that’s the case, every endorsement counts.
Just thinking about New Orleans.

Errol Laborde
(504) 828-1380 ext 208 elaborde@neworleansmagazine.com

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