What a thrilling Super Bowl last night. The onside kick. Brees with 32 completions. And Sean Payton making some of the gutsier calls seen in a Super Bowl.
How much fun do you think New Orleans had last night?
It was a win larger than football, and anyone who's spent any time in the Crescent City can tell you how much the Saints are part of the their culture.
This was a big weekend for New Orleans, and for politicos, celebrations didn't just start last night. On Saturday, the city elected a new mayor in a landslide unprecedented in modern city politics. Mitch Landrieu, the mayor-elect, is a politician to watch. For those rooting for the city from afar, it's exciting to see the coalition the campaign assembled and the potential for Landrieu to help get the city back on track.
From the Times-Picayune this weekend:
"The people of the city of New Orleans did a very extraordinary thing today," Landrieu said minutes after he entered to a "Who Dat!" chorus from the crowd gathered in a Roosevelt Hotel ballroom. "We decided that we were going to stick the pole in the ground and strike a blow for unity, strike a blow for a city that decided to be unified rather than divided, a city that understands that where there is equal opportunity, there is equal responsibility. It is a city that really understands that we are ready to move beyond and into the next generation."
Flanked by his parents, his wife, Cheryl, and their five children, Landrieu continued: "We took a huge leap forward into the future today. The city of New Orleans showed America what it takes to rebuild a great place. We're all going together and we're not leaving anybody behind."
Making his third bid for City Hall's top job, Landrieu picked up an astonishing 66 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff that appeared to be a near-certainty just two months ago. So definitive was his win that political pundits declared Landrieu the victor just a half-hour after the polls closed, with the first of his opponents conceding before 9 p.m.
Landrieu's win Saturday marks the first time in the city's modern history that a mayoral race not featuring an incumbent was settled in the primary. The current open-primary system, in which the top two finishers regardless of party advance to a runoff, dates to 1975.
Landrieu, a lawyer, inherits a fits-and-starts recovery, a stubborn crime problem and a fragile city budget that already has been slashed in key areas.
Most of the national stories about the race failed to mention it, but Mitch Landrieu was one of the few elected officials during Katrina who were actual heroes. Mitch personally saved hundreds of lives and was part of the homegrown rescue effort that worked to fill the void days before federal forces arrived.
From Douglas Brinkley's excellent book, The Great Deluge:
One leading Lousiana politician, a New Orleans native, also became an honorary Homeboy rescuer, a flood-dog, putting his life on the line to help others. Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu had spent Monday night at the Baton Rouge EOC, trying to assess the damage and wondering how he could be most helpful. Deeply worried about towns in St. Bernard Parish, where he heard that a "Wall of Water" had knocked communities right out of the grid of civilization, he was desperate for details.
When Landrieu arrived, he found extreme logistical challenges:
Everywhere the lietenant governor looked were downed trees, utility poles, and telephone wires. Magazine Street, around Whole Foods, Scriptura Stationar, and St. Joe's Bar, was covered with debris, making it nearly impassible with anything less than a Hummer. Landrieu's instinct told him to cling to the Mississippi levee, which hadn't breached. To that end, he got on Tchoupitoulas Street and took it all the way down to the French Quarter, around Fabourg Marigny. Then to the parially submerged St. Claude Avenue Bridge, where he joined members of LDWF who were launching boats into the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish.
Once there, Landrieu was not easily deterred:
Like the NOLA Homeboys and Soul Rebels, Landrieu later had light-hearted stories about some of the stubborn Ninth Warders he encountered. At one home, with floodwarters inundating the first floor, Landrieu saw a middle-aged guy stuck on the roof. "Come on down," Landrieu shouted up him from the boat. "I don't want to go," the man shouted back. A perplexed Landrieu, cupping his hands around his mouth, asked "Why not?" The response was idiotic, yet somehow very New Orleanian: "Because," he yelled. "I want to get rescued by a helicopter." A helicopter? "You've got to be kidding me!" Landrieu shouted back. "You better get your ass in the boat and get your ass in this boat now!" The disappointed man murmured, "All right, all righ, give me a few minutes."
Here's to the Saints winning the Super Bowl and New Orleans electing a badass.