Louisiana News

New Orleans prepares for mayoral election primary

(The Center Square) – Fourteen candidates are running for mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana’s most populous city, in an open primary election Saturday that could determine the city’s top elected official for the next four years.

The election was five weeks delayed after Gov. John Bel Edwards postponed Louisiana’s statewide fall elections, originally scheduled for Oct. 9, because Hurricane Ida slammed into the southeast region in late August, causing widespread damage and election timeline disruptions.

Voters in all 64 parishes will see four constitutional ballot amendments dealing with tax and budget issues on the ballot. Orleans Parish, which has the same boundaries as New Orleans, is one of 12 parishes where voters also will consider local races and ballot propositions.

New Orleans residents are slated to elect a sheriff, a state House representative for District 27, multiple city council members and other local officials, such as a coroner. The race for mayor, however, will determine the city’s chief public officer.

Incumbent Democratic Mayor LaToya Cantrell is running for reelection against a slew of challengers. Cantrell was first elected in 2017 with 60.3% of the vote.

Despite implementing COVID-19 measures such as a citywide vaccine passport system to enter restaurants, gyms and other public places, a recent University of New Orleans poll showed an approval rating of 57%.

“Mayor Cantrell enjoys a relatively high approval rating that is nearly double her disapproval rating,” the poll said.

Four Democrats are vying to unseat Cantrell: Eldon Delloyd “El” Anderson, Belden “Noonie Man” Batiste, Luke Fontana and Johnese Lamar Smith.

Vina Nguyen is the mayoral election’s only Republican candidate, while four Independents are also running: Joseph Amato, Douglas Bentley, Matthew Hill and Nathan “Nate” Jones.

Four nonparty affiliated candidates also will appear on the ballot: Manuel “Chevrolet” Bruno, Byron Stephan Cole, Leilani Heno and Reginald Merchant.

Saturday’s election results could determine the outcome of the mayor’s race without a general election contest because of the state’s election design.

Louisiana has an open primary system, sometimes called a “jungle primary.” Every candidate runs together and every eligible voter can cast a vote regardless of party affiliation.

A single candidate can win the election outright with a simple majority vote, or more than 50%. If that doesn’t occur, the top two candidates will enter a runoff general election scheduled for Dec. 11.

All congressional, state, parish and municipal races operate under the open primary system. Presidential elections do not.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardroin said last week the deadline to request an absentee ballot online – at voterportal.sos.la.gov – is 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

According to the secretary of state’s office, Orleans Parish had 267,217 registered voters as of Nov. 1. Democrats account for 171,612 of the registered voters while Republicans were at 26,395. A third category labeled “Other Parties” accounted for 69,210 voters.

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