You know, we've got an election coming up, next Saturday in fact. The papers keep saying it will the most important mayoral election for the city ever, and it's certainly the weirdest. For one thing, it's the only mayoral race in any city's history that's necessarily been national in scope. It had to be, with so many voters spread God knows where. Tomorrow, for example, a candidates' debate for a merely municipal election will be carried coast to coast on MSNBC. When has that happened before?
Louisiana uses an open primary system. If one candidate gets more than 50% of the vote next Saturday, game over. But that's not going to happen, as there are three major candidates, about four more second tier candidates, and nearly a dozen fringies. So the top two vote getters will go into a runoff at the general election on May 20. It's long been assumed that Mayor Nagin will be one of the two. His two main challengers, Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, scion of the most powerful political family in the city, and Ron Forman, head of the Audubon Institute that runs the zoo and aquarium, are battling each other for the other spot. It's ironic, as they used to be personal friends, and at one point each was saying that if the other ran, he would bow out. Not anymore. They seem to be getting out the knives. Ah, politics in Louisiana is the Sport of Kings.
The second tier candidates hope for a major upset, squeezing past both Forman and Landrieu. Not bloody likely. The fringies give best entertainment value, however. Kimberly Williamson Butler is the one who had to skip the first mayoral debate as she was still in jail for contempt of court, the same court for which she serves as Clerk. She recently released a campaign photo of her standing in the French Quarter. Only it turned out not to be the real Quarter, but the fake one Disneyland built in the mid-60s. There was one fringie candidate who, when asked why he was running, said he "needed a job."
Should be interesting. And I'll be watching it from a new perspective. Since they were short staffed, I decided to step forward and help out as an Election Commissioner, which is a fancy title for poll worker. I'll have to be at my post in the Quarter by 5:30 am, to get ready for the poll opening at 6, and they don't close till 8 pm. But what the hell. I went to a two-hour training session a few months ago, at which I met Ms. Butler herself, shaking hands with all the trainees, since in her job as Clerk of Court she is responsible for training them and monitoring everything on election day. Yep, that's right. One of the fringe candidates for mayor is actually reponsible for seeing that the election proceeds smoothly and fairly. You can't make this stuff up.
Oh, and we're electing a new City Council, too. The most likely ticket to win is the Throw The Bums Out ticket. Nobody thinks much of the Council's performance since Katrina. I'm still thinking hard about who to vote for for mayor, but for City Council, I know who my guy is.