Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Congratulations, Mayor Oliver Thomas

I can't pay attention the Trump indictment. It just seems like so much boring celebrity gossip to me. Anyway, I missed this one a few days ago.  

In Louisiana, the flamboyant former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who spent eight years in prison on corruption charges, tried, and failed, to mount a political comeback with a run for Congress in 2014.

Voters in New Orleans were more forgiving of the City Council member Oliver Thomas, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty in 2007 to taking bribes, but was returned to the Council in 2021. Mr. Thomas spent years trying to come to grips with his transgressions both privately and publicly; at one point he even played himself in a theatrical production based on his downfall.

Clancy DuBos, a New Orleans political analyst, said that Mr. Thomas earned back voters’ trust by facing up to his guilt, and then engaging in extensive volunteer and community service work. “He’s seen as someone who’s fallen but he’s done a complete arc of redemption,” said Mr. DuBos. He thinks Mr. Thomas could one day be mayor.

It's always dangerous territory to find oneself in agreement with Clancy DuBos. But there is context.  This article had to be pointed out to me last night because I compared OT, not to Trump the way this story does, but to Paul Vallas who we all just watched lose the Chicago mayoral runoff.  This was a surprising development to me for a whole host of reasons. Chief among them being that the kind of Vallas coalition described by Chicago tweeters (privatizing NGOs, vestigial political machines, cops and real estate moguls stoking crime panic) is insurmountably dominant in New Orleans.

All of that describes a figure like Oliver Thomas. He even has his own radio show! 

So, yeah, I agree with Clancy. If you're looking to place an early bet on #NOLAMayor 2025, OT is a good spot to lay some money. (Also pretty good spot to lay money if you're looking for a favorable parking contract but we knew that already.)  But the reason isn't because New Orleans voters are "more forgiving" so much as there just isn't any alternative for them to believe in here.

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