Governor field awaiting Landrieu

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

Photo by Infrogmation/Wikimedia

Some say he will. Others downright call it unfathomable. Most simply have no idea what he’ll do.

So until New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gives a definitive answer on running for governor, pollsters will continue tossing in his name and donors will second guess their investments.

To that end, sources very close to the mayor insist he has not ruled out the possibility of joining the field. But they also say he will soon report having only $30,000 to $40,000 in the bank. While Landrieu is certainly in a position to raise piles of cash fast should he decide to run, it’s not the kind of number a serious candidate would want to start with.

Then again, it’s not exactly due to weak fundraising. Landrieu drained the coffers last year for his re-election and immediately went to war helping his sister in a heated Senate campaign while dealing with quite a long list of controversial issues in the city.

Democratic operatives suggest Landrieu may be more interested, and better positioned, to become a major influencer in the presidential race. It has become a trend of late to pull from the ranks of big city mayors for top tier D.C. gigs, and Landrieu would once again be following in the footsteps of his mayor-father, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Landrieu has close ties to the Clinton family, but he could be a strong voice for whichever pol snags the nomination. Rumors have long percolated about possible positions in the Obama Administration, although nothing concrete has surfaced to substantiate the talk.

The indecision on running for governor certainly keeps Landrieu relevant, not that a New Orleans mayor needs inventive ways to stay afloat in political waters. The poll numbers must be entertaining, if nothing else, for the mayor, with him guaranteed to make the runoff against the current slate of candidates.

Hurt most in those surveys by a Landrieu candidacy is state Rep. John Bel Edwards of Amite, the long-declared candidate who has been working the base for more than a year. He also has a billboard prominently displayed by the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Edwards swept aside the rumors in a recent interview and predicted Landrieu will stay where he is.

“Last fall he told a group in Hammond, and I was there, that he would not run,” Edwards said. “He told the people of New Orleans last year that he would not run. I know Mitch to be an honorable person and he’ll live up to his word.”

One donor said he recently pushed Landrieu on the question, but was unable to get a read one way or the other. A government official in New Orleans said Landrieu has implied he is not inclined to run, but a poll showing a clear and definite path to victory could convince him otherwise.

Meanwhile, concerns about the mayor’s standing with unions, firefighters and teachers are overhyped, supporters say, and he would be able to pull together a support system quickly if he indeed decided to become the surprise candidate of 2015.

Yet with each passing day, it appears more and more unlikely, with or without mixed signals.