February 23, 2006
Lieutenant Governor Makes Bid for Mayor of New Orleans
By ADAM NOSSITER
NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 22 — Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu formally entered the race for mayor of New Orleans on Wednesday, adding a politically potent name to a foreshortened contest certain to raise the make-or-break issues facing this city.
The primary is on April 22, with a possible runoff in May. The stakes and shifting demographics here have made the contest unlike any other in recent memory.
In addition to Mr. Landrieu, two other well-known whites have entered the race, underscoring the possibility that New Orleans could elect a white mayor for the first time in more than 30 years. They are Ron Forman, president of the Audubon Nature Institute, credited with making a financial success of the city's zoo and aquarium, and Peggy Wilson, a Republican former city councilwoman considered a voice for wealthier Uptown residents.
Mr. Landrieu, son of the last white mayor and brother of Senator Mary L. Landrieu, and Mr. Forman, a favorite of the business class, are considered formidable challengers to the incumbent, C. Ray Nagin, who is widely seen as weakened by a sometimes shaky performance with Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Nagin has one black challenger, a minister, the Rev. Tom Watson.
Although Mr. Forman, with his ties to the economic elite, may have a fund-raising edge, Mr. Landrieu is likely to prove a more potent vote getter among blacks, who have long supported his family.
Mr. Landrieu thanked Mr. Nagin for being "a good public servant," but drew a pointed contrast between himself and what critics have seen as the mayor's lack of polish.
"Today what we need is leadership that can restore our credibility, nationally and internationally," Mr. Landrieu said. "What we need is a mayor and a leader who can communicate with Congress and the White House."