Troy Henry Will Run for Mayor

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Eastern New Orleans businessman Troy Henry will run for mayor, adding another twist to what is beginning to shape up as a full field of candidates and potential candidates. Henry, 48, said he announced his decision to his church bible study group tonight — and then called Gambit.

Henry says he will issue a formal press release announcing his candidacy on Wednesday.

Henry is president and CEO of a company he founded. His holdings include a variety of retail and consulting interests. A native of the Lower Ninth Ward, his family moved to Pontchartrain Park after Hurricane Betsy flooded the Lower 9 in 1965. As a child in the city’s first middle-class black neighborhood, he befriended young Wendell Pierce, who is now a stage and screen star (most notably HBO’s The Wire) and who, according to Henry, will serve as campaign chair for the mayoral effort.

“I have a lot of work to do,” Henry told Gambit Tuesday night, “but I’m ready for it.”

Henry attended St. Aug High School, Stanford University, and Carnegie Mellon University. As a businessman, he will have to contend with the Nagin Effect — a residual skepticism among many New Orleans voters toward “businessman” candidates after eight years of lackluster progress under Nagin, who was billed as a businessman when he first ran for mayor in 2002.

The irony of Nagin’s effect on business candidates is that Nagin was never really a businessman. While he came from the private sector — he was the local head of Cox Cable, which is headquartered in Atlanta — he never owned his own successful business. The myth of Nagin’s business background took hold in 2002, however, and since then it has assumed the aura of truth. Henry and other “business” candidates thus will have to debunk the Nagin businessman myth first — and then convince voters to roll the dice on a real businessperson. Recent polls suggest that voters this time are looking for someone with governmental and political experience and competence. Hence, the Nagin Effect.

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