Local politics has gotten more difficult to predict largely because the electorate is so displaced. While Jefferson’s victory was a mild surprise, the size of his win was shocking. A successful election is the product of many factors, including these:
Jefferson can give thanks to one miracle: The showdown vote on the crucial offshore revenue package came during the same week as the runoff. This gave him a chance to be seen as a Congressman busy in Washington working on a windfall for the state. Several times during the week he got to transcend politics before the television cameras talking about the status of the legislation rather than defending his legal problems or campaigning. He had the rare chance to look like a statesman. Because the vote kept him in Washington he also had an excuse to avoid televised debates. Usually debates, when they have any impact at all, work to the advantage of challengers over incumbents. The scope of the bill, and its timing, gave Jefferson a personal windfall.
Just as some so-called uptown white businessmen supported Ray Nagin’s re-election by reasoning it was better to back a lame duck than someone who could establish a new dynasty, there was similar reasoning in this campaign. Some politicos felt it wiser to support Jefferson, who, because of his legal problems, may not last a full term, than to back someone who might hold on to the job for a couple of decades. Jefferson parish politicians in particular wanted another chance at the seat. The incumbent cannot be flattered from knowing that some of his key support came from people who were counting on his not being in office much longer.
Note to Karen Carter. Next time Spike Lee calls just say "No". Lee’s tirades against Carter were influential in getting West Bank whites to either hold their nose and vote for Jefferson or not vote at all. There is a good bit of solidarity on the West Bank and Lee convinced voters to stand solidly against Carter.
Let’s not overlook that beyond all the political theories there were some people who voted for Jefferson because they liked him or they were loyalists to his diminished but still potent political organization. The Congressman has been a master politician and, more than ever, showed his stuff just when he was threatened the most.
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