New Orleans stayed chocolate at the end of the day

By Sinclere Lee

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (BNW) — They came in by the busloads, cars and vans, and as a result, the victory in New Orleans underscores the power of the Black vote and why every Black in this country should be registered to vote.

With billions of federal dollars on the line, and despite the sellout of some Black churches and the biasness of the white press down there, the Black voters in New Orleans set the tone for the rest of the Black community — when Blacks of New Orleans voted under great hardship to keep control of their city.

The poor people of New Orleans have narrowly re-elected Ray Nagin to lead them as mayor, and the Big Easy stayed chocolate at the end of the day!

Nagin won 52% of the vote in a second round run-off, beating fellow Democrat Mitch Landrieu.

With all 442 precincts reporting, Nagin had 52.3 percent, or 59,460 votes, to Landrieu's 47.7 percent, or 54,131 votes, according to The Associated Press.

AP reported that Nagin won majority-black precincts and Landrieu majority-white ones, but Nagin also attracted significant crossover support in predominantly white precincts in Uptown New Orleans.

The lead switched hands several times during the count in the contest for who will lead the hurricane-ravaged city through reconstruction.

Saturday night, Nagin celebrated victory in front of cheering crowds.

"It's time for this city to start the healing process," he said.

Landrieu told his supporters it was a hard-fought but fair campaign, and urged people to support Nagin during the rebuilding of New Orleans.

He now faces the task of overseeing reconstruction work and helping tens of thousands of people displaced by last year's hurricane to return to the city.

Nagin's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and his brash style had polarized opinion in New Orleans.

In his victory speech, Nagin told supporters "we are ready to take off".

"We have citizens around the country who want to come back the city of New Orleans, and we're going to get them all back to the city of New Orleans," he said.

Landrieu, who won 48% of the vote, called on both sets of supporters to come together.

"We as a people have got to come together so we can speak with one voice and one purpose. Join with me in supporting Mayor Nagin," he said.

Race issues

Experts had expected the city to vote largely along racial lines.

Landrieu is white and the son of the city's last white mayor.

Race was always seen as key in the vote. Nagin is black; Landrieu is white. Before Katrina, the city had a 2-to-1 Black majority and had not elected a white mayor since 1974, when Landrieu's father, Moon, won.

Nagin, who is Black, is thought to have alienated many white voters last year by saying New Orleans ought to remain a "chocolate" city.

But his election victory shows many whites nonetheless voted for him in the run-off.

Both mayoral contenders had campaigned to rebuild New Orleans.

More than half of the residents who fled Hurricane Katrina last year have not returned to the city, where many neighborhoods are still uninhabitable.

A federal judge refused to postpone the first round, despite fears too many residents scattered by the disaster would be unable to vote.

Some civil rights leaders have called the election unfair because of the lack of out-of-state polling centers.

Rev Jesse Jackson has pledged to challenge the poll in court, regardless of the outcome.

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