November 10, 2023 6:00am

Unpacking Jeff Landry's victory, Dyno Nobel's $27 million mistake and helping homeless people

New Orleans, Jefferson influencers see more at play than governor-elect's strength as candidate

Photo of Drew Broach
New Orleans, LA Correspondent
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As with any big election, many ingredients contributed to Jeff Landry’s outright victory in the Louisiana gubernatorial race. But Landry’s own strength as a candidate was not among the significant ones, according to the New Orleans Power Poll.

Instead, most poll respondents cite the state Republican Party’s early endorsement of Landry, the milquetoast nature of the other 14 candidates and neglect by Democratic voters and party leaders. Only 10% said Landry was the strongest candidate from the get-go.

“There were several factors at play in Democrats' pitiful election results, but ultimately these all result from the party's failures to organize, recruit candidates and to raise money,” said Jack Sweeney, himself a campaign coordinator. “Keep in mind that Landry earned substantially fewer votes than [Democratic Gov. John Bel] Edwards in both 2015 and 2019, so the results are not a question of Landry's relative strength or a particularly strong enthusiasm among Republican voters.”

Others, however, saw something deeper at work in a state that gave gave 51.6% of its vote to the white Republican victor and only 25.9% to his nearest competitor, the black Democrat Shawn Wilson.

“We have to stop pretending that racism and apathy driven by crushing poverty were not at play during this recent election,” said Ashley Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice.


Power Poll also asked about an industrial oops in Jefferson Parish, where Dyno Nobel constructed a $27 million boiler for its Waggaman ammonia plant without first obtaining a state air pollution permit or a local building permit.

Two thirds of respondents called the state fine, $1,725, “way too low.” But more than half said Jefferson Parish should go ahead and grant the building permit, while also fining the company.

Several respondents counseled granting the after-the-fact permits if Dyno Nobel otherwise meets the requirements. But even an industry leader favored making the company pay big for its failure.

“If Dyno Nobel is in compliance, allow the retro permit but heavily fine and deny / cancel any and all tax exemptions,” said Lisa Gunter Barback, executive director of the Westbank Business & Industry Association.


It was only recently that governments and social service nonprofits in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish launched an ambitious effort to move 1,500 homeless people into subsidized apartments.

Whether that will succeed is an open question. More than half the respondents were neutral or not at all confident.

Charles Talley, partner in the Kean Miller law firm, called the initiative a "noble gesture" but wondered whether "it will be followed up with medical and other assistance to get these people back in the workforce? And will this effort be matched with an effort to not allow the remaining homeless to camp out around downtown?"

Sandy Rosenthal, founder and president of, found reason for optimism: “With organizations like Unity of Greater New Orleans working in cooperation, I am confident we can go far in reducing homelessness.”

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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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