What You Need to Know about New Orleans Politics

Guest Blogger: Jim Fitzmorris

Jim Fitzmorris has been writing plays about New Orleans politics for over a decade. He holds a PhD from the University of Washington and teaches theatre at Tulane University. He describes his process as “infuriating scoundrels by barely changing them into fictional characters.” He’ll be helping us figure Katrina out for a bit.

Louisiana has possibly the stupidest and simultaneously most entertaining form of election primaries in America. For those of you who do not know, it is called the open primary system. Basically, everyone runs in the same primary. If anyone gets fifty-one percent first time around, they win. If not, the top two vote getters, regardless of party, make the runoff. So, when someone asks how a twice-indicted former governor can end up in a runoff against the previous head of the KKK, you can tell them… the open primary system. I believe it is one of the myriad of reasons that Louisiana continues to be the best evidence against the concept of states’ rights.


4 thoughts on “What You Need to Know about New Orleans Politics

  1. Open primary system– stupidest? Well, in most municipal politics, party affilitation is meaningless. Compare to NYC, where four years ago Mike Bloomberg became a Republican overnight and walked away with the nomination, while the Democratic candidates have to duke it out in their own primary. Not that an open primary would change the results of this year’s coming election…

    All very interesting, but, by the way, Jim, when did you get added to the list of contributors? Seems that list has grown a bit, and it’s not clear who’s who anymore.

  2. The open primary system actually makes for interesting elections. The problem is in statewide contests it usually makes the runoff a contest between the two most radical candidates in the election (i.e. Duke vs. Edwards), because the extreme candidates has a rabid core of supporters. I am not a fan of the system, because it probably prevented my Uncle Jimmy from becoming Governor of Louisiana in 1979. It was created in the late Seventies by Edwin Edwards to make sure that Democrats would not beat up on him when he sought reelction while the Republican candidate got a free pass.

  3. Elaine la mom, Msv Oh….way to go Jim…our favority playwright. anxious to hear your reading of your next play, THE LAST MADAME. How will ‘lean’ political history as part of ” look the other way” zoning & statute enforcement be dealt with in your new offering?

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