New Orleans mayor and Democratic Party Superdelegate Ray Nagin endorsed Barack Obama for President this morning. In his statement, Nagin cited Obama’s commitment to Gulf Coast recovery and Washington reform. “Since the immediate days following the storm, I have been travelling to our nation’s capitol to advocate for policies that aid our rebuilding effort,” Nagin said. “I know firsthand, we desperately need the leadership of someone committed to changing the system in Washington that can hold us back from moving forward. For these reasons, I endorse Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nominee.” In a campaign news release, Obama thanked the mayor and said he looked forward to working with him on revitalizing New Orleans.
The outspoken mayor, who’s garnered national attention for the city’s recovery efforts and for controversial statements that have included making New Orleans a “Chocolate City”, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to his political endorsements. In 2003, Nagin crossed parties to endorse Republican Bobby Jindal for Governor, in the year that Kathleen Blanco was elected. Nagin seemed to bounce back in 2006, winning re-election and backing embattled Congressman William Jefferson in his improbable ballot victory. Last year, however, Nagin’s picks again didn’t pan out so well; he endorsed the failing campaigns of state Senate candidate Jalila Jefferson-Bullock (Congressman Jefferson’s daughter), gubernatorial candidate John Georges and at-large city council candidate Cynthia Willard-Lewis. Most importantly for Obama, however, Nagin’s endorsement does help the Illinois Senator take the lead in the all-important superdelegate battle with Sen. Hillary Clinton. Nagin brings Obama even with Clinton among announced Louisiana superdelegates. Obama has the support of Nagin and former state party chairman Ben Jeffers. Clinton is supported by former New Orleans City Councilwoman Renee Gill Pratt and Democratic National Committeewoman Patsy Arceneaux. The state’s seven other superdelegates remain neutral.