Before taking the media to task last Wednesday (Jan. 6) for allegedly marginalizing black mayoral candidates, Troy Henry's campaign briefly panicked the local political establishment with an email saying the candidate would have a news conference to "discuss the future of his candidacy." Such wording is often used when a campaign is shutting down, but rather than withdrawing, Henry delivered a speech called "The Media Reports on Race." He said coverage of the mayoral campaign in the wake of state Sen. Ed Murray's withdrawal was biased toward frontrunner Mitch Landrieu, citing a column that morning by The Times-Picayune's James Gill and concluding, "No doubt, Mr. Gill has prematurely crowned the next mayor as a white mayor. Of course, I strongly disagree with his assessment." (Gill's column, while about racial politics, concluded no such thing.) Henry also accused the mainstream media of suppressing black voter turnout with such reports: "These stories and reports may create a sense of voter apathy that discourage, instead of encourage, voters to go to the polls on Feb. 6."
Henry then told reporters that he had spoken with the two other black candidates, former Judge Nadine Ramsey and fair-housing advocate James Perry, and that both agreed with his assessment. Before Henry was finished talking, however, Perry's campaign texted reporters to disagree. The next morning Perry issued a statement saying Henry "falsely invoked my name in his racially charged political stunt." Perry also accused Henry of being Mayor Ray Nagin's candidate after the mayor went on WBOK radio and criticized Perry for taking issue with Henry. "They're apparently playing as a political 'tag team' in this mayor's race," Perry said in the statement. "Troy Henry's trying to secure his future with Ray Nagin's help; perhaps Ray Nagin sees Troy Henry as the best opportunity to preserve his 'legacy.'" — Kevin Allman and Clancy DuBos