September 8, 2023 6:00am

Power Poll picks its favorites for governor -- and predicts the winner

(Psst: They're not the same candidate.)

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New Orleans, LA Correspondent
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Power Poll New Orleans members still see Stephen Waguespack and Shawn Wilson as best suited to be Louisiana’s governor, but they don’t think either will win the fall election, according to this week's survey.

Republican Waguespack drew 34% of the votes and Democrat Wilson got 27%, followed by Republicans John Schroder at 15% and Jeff Landry at 10%. That’s the same order of preference and about the same percentages as in the June Power Poll.

But two thirds of all poll respondents predict Landry will win the election. That’s in line with conventional political polling that shows Landry leading the pack.

The primary is Oct. 14. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff Nov. 18.

Landry, the state attorney general, has the most money to spend on the campaign and is thought to be a lock for the runoff. Wilson, transportation and development secretary in Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration, is the lone Democrat in the race.

The big issue

Whoever wins will be the chief government executive in a state where voters consider crime a major issue. While crime is a complex seemingly intractable problem, politicians generally fall into two camps.

One attacks crime directly, with more money for police and longer sentences for offenders. Landry appeals to this crowd.

The other sees crime as a symptom of racial, economic and employment inequities that need to be addressed. Waguespack, for example, while professing support for law enforcement and punishment, also says “providing educational opportunity for our young people is the most important tool we have to lowering crime rates in the long run.”

Power Poll members are split, with slightly more falling into the latter camp.

“’Lock 'em up and throw away the key’ is a stale and racially divisive narrative. Worse, the ‘policy’ does nothing to reduce crime and only wastes money,” said WBOK radio co-owner Jeff Thomas. “If we want to get serious about reducing crime, then we have to invest in underserved communities.”

Farewell, Forman

Power Poll also sought to assess the legacy of Ron Forman, who plans to retire in 2024 after almost a half century growing and developing the Audubon Nature Institute and its myriad public attractions. A big majority of respondents gave him thumbs up.

“I grew up two blocks from Audubon Park and experienced the horrible conditions of the zoo before Ron Forman took the helm of the Audubon Zoo,” said Jeffrey Smith, founder and design principal at Holly and Smith Architects. “The transformation of the zoo and all of the other endeavors of the Audubon Institute are exceptional. Thank you, Ron, for your efforts. You will be missed.”

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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