A team of senior political consultants who helped catapult Ray Nagin to mayor-elect will be handling lawyer James Gray's campaign for district attorney in the fall elections.
The Gray team consists of three graying experts with decades of political experience among them: campaign strategist Jim Carvin, 70; political pollster Joe Walker, 68; and public relations consultant Bill Rousselle, 55. Carvin's daughter, Karen Carvin Shachat, will produce and place campaign broadcast advertising.
The team was scheduled to meet with Gray last Friday, to begin filling in other key campaign posts. In the coming months, the Gray team will be taking polls and building a campaign organization. "Doing all the nitty-gritty stuff you do," says Carvin, "before you get to do the glamour."
Gray ran for district attorney in 1996, finishing third behind incumbent Harry Connick and second-place finisher Criminal Court Judge Morris Reed. Last Friday, Connick notified top supporters by letter that he will not seek reelection.
"For an unknown who didn't spend a lot of money, he ran a respectable race," Carvin says of Gray. "He picked up a lot of anti-Connick whites, plus he had support in the black community. I think he was probably under-financed then."
Gray is expected to face at least two formidable opponents: former local U.S. Attorney Eddie Jordan and Dale Atkins, Clerk of Civil District Court. The election is Oct. 5. Qualifying for the race is Aug. 21.
It's no secret that Criminal District Court Judge Leon Cannizzaro has long wanted to serve on the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. Last week, Cannizzaro announced he would qualify for one of two Fourth Circuit seats up for grabs in the Oct. 5 primary elections.
Both Division A Judge Steven Plotkin, who turns 66 on April 19, and Division B Judge Miriam Waltzer, 67, are expected to retire at the end of the year. State judges in Louisiana are required to retire by age 70. Terms for elected state appellate judges are 10 years.
"Judge Cannizzaro will qualify for the Division B seat, which is expected to be vacated with the retirement of the Honorable Miriam Waltzer," Cannizzaro campaign manager Billy Schultz said in a March 21 news release. Cannizzaro, 49, was first elected to the bench in 1986, and has served as Criminal Court judge for 16 years. He seriously considered running for a Fourth Circuit seat in 2000, but held back because of his longtime friendship with fellow Judge Max Tobias, who won the Division D seat, said Schultz.
Meanwhile, a source close to Ed Lombard, Clerk of Criminal District Court, confirms that Lombard is eyeing a race for one of the two Court of Appeal seats. Lombard was out of town last week and unavailable for comment. Finally, Civil District Court Judge Lloyd Medley last week emphatically denied rumors he may be joining the hunt for a Fourth Circuit seat. "I am happy in the District Court," Judge Medley said through a Civil Court spokesperson.
Taking Their Chats
No fooling: at 8 p.m. Monday, April 1, Le Chat Noir (715 St. Charles Ave.) will welcome local politicos for a no-holds-barred discussion about the issues of the day. Billed as "a roundtable with plenty of rounds," the premier Politics With a Punch will feature writer/comedian Chris Champagne, Press Club Gridiron Show director Ken Ferguson, WDSU-TV anchor Norman Robinson, Legislator and Councilmember-elect Jackie Clarkson, and Gambit Weekly's Clancy DuBos. Television and radio host and Gambit Weekly columnist Jeff Crouere will emcee the program, which is produced by Crouere, Steve Sabludowsky and Betsie Gambel. Following the April Fool's Day debut, the show will go into regular rotation on the first Monday of each month. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Web site www.bayoubuzz.com for more information.