Mayor's race heats up with 1 month to go - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Mayor's race heats up with 1 month to go


NEW ORLEANS - The new year has begun, and candidates in the race for mayor are gearing up for a campaign season that only has one month to go.

Political analysts say that's not much time to get the attention of voters, especially if you're a lesser-known politician.

It's been on the air for nearly a month now. Gospel choirs have been singing the praises of the incumbent mayor. But now, a rival is weighing in with his own TV spots.

"In a condensed campaign cycle, you have to be aggressive in getting the attention of voters," said Xavier political analyst Dr Silas Lee.

Campaign workers manning candidate Michael Bagneris' headquarters on Broad Street acknowledge the short timetable, but say it's not insurmountable.

"It is a challenge, but we will have 300 people on the street," said wife and campaign worker Madlyn Bagneris.

Bagneris has filed his first campaign finance report showing $219,925 on hand, and he's about to begin spending thousands of dollars for TV ads in his bid to gain name recognition.

"When you're running against an incumbent, it takes more time, but we have to see what kind of campaign he will run in terms of gaining momentum," Lee said.

For his part, Mitch Landrieu has been holding daily news conferences to tout his administration's achievements.

"While I'm aware of the progress, I believe we have a long way to go," said Landrieu outside a new city recreational facility.

Campaign finance records show Landrieu has plenty to spend. In his filing Nov. 4, Landrieu had $1.6 million on hand with a long list of people contributing $5,000 or more - an amount that  eclipses the other three candidates vying for votes in just 30 days.

"Any time you are an incumbent, you have to defend your record," Lee said. "You've made friends and enemies, and that's always a challenge."

NAACP local chapter president Danatus King, who announced first, has a different challenge. Campaign finance records show King with $219,000 in cash on hand.

In the past, political organizations such as Bold, Coup and Life have played big roles in elections, but not so much in recent years, though those groups could be making a comeback.

"You can't discount them - they are still a factor," Lee said. "They still have an infrastructure to inform and get voters to the polls."

The fourth candidate in the race - Manny "Chevrolet" Bruno - has filed organizational papers, but shows no cash on hand for the Feb. 1 election.

Bagneris has old reports on file showing he had $2,600 left from his last judicial campaign, money that the state Ethics Commission said may be used in the mayor's race.

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