Race Assumes Central Role in New Orleans Vote

Campbell Robertson, New York Times, January 13, 2010

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Mr. Murray [Edwin R. Murray, a state senator and until recently the front-running black candidate for mayor of New Orleans] also said in a statement that he had dropped out to avoid a racially divisive campaign. {snip}

The New Orleans Tribune, an African-American newsmagazine, called Mr. Murray’s decision “a betrayal of the black community.” At a news conference, Mr. Henry castigated the news media for having “prematurely crowned the next mayor as a white mayor.”

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Black professionals refer to the office [of mayor] as “the franchise,” the counterweight to the economic power of New Orleans’s white elite. For the past three decades, the black private sector–the lawyers, businessmen and architects–has relied on the franchise: they may not always be able to become board members at the city’s white-owned firms, but black professionals turned to the city government for contracts and jobs.

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“The critical thing for the African-American community is to be much more focused on a clear agenda,” [Bill Rouselle, owner of a public relations and consulting firm, who helped engineer Ray Nagin’s re-election in 2006 and who had been working for Mr. Murray’s campaign] {snip} said, “the agenda being followed became a secondary concern to getting a black person elected.”

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