Ron Forman is often labeled as a "Democrat-turned Republican-turned Democrat", making it a bit confusing to try and figure out what his true affiliation may be. However, his inclusion of veteran Republican
strategist and prominant GOP insider Bill Kearney on his team seems to set the matter at rest. Kearney, a well-known political consultant with a long track record in Louisiana and New Orleans politics, was conservative challenger Suzie Haik Terrell's campaign manager in her bitterly-fought but unsuccessful bid to unseat Senator Mary Landrieu in 2002.
That was a race that is still cited as one of the nastiest in memory. Republican Gov. Mike Foster shied away from an endorsement of Terrell, the state's elections commissioner, upset with what he called Terrell's "cesspool" campaign.
A sign posted around New Orleans on election day sought to exploit Landrieu's problems with some black leaders who complained that the white senator had ignored them during the six years of her first term. The signs said: "Mary, if you don't respect us, don't expect us." The signs were paid for by the Louisiana Republican Party, who also hired black men to wave them on street corners. GOP officials defended the slogan as an accurate reflection of how many black voters felt about Landrieu. Landrieu said it was an underhanded attempt to persuade black voters to stay away from the polls.
Bill Kearney also served as a consultant for Jay Batt's City Council District A campaign, in which Batt unseated incumbant Scott Shea, effectively throwing the citizens of District A out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fire. When the Fairgrounds racetrack's new owner, Churchill Downs, wanted help on getting the zoning changes needed to build a casino through the City Council, they hired Bill Kearney for his close ties to Batt, whose district contains the track.
Bill Kearney's acumen and advice will certainly aid Ron Forman's attempt to broaden his support outside his Uptown base and across the conservative political and social spectrum.
From Louisiana Weekly, by Christopher Tidmore, Political Columnist, February 20, 2006
Forman Asks Fielkow To Be "Running Mate"
In a breaking story, sources close to both Ron Forman and Arnold Fielkow reveal to The Louisiana Weekly that the Mayoral candidate has asked the former Saints Vice President to run on a "ticket" with him for Mayor.
The concept centers around the Audubon Institute President's stated intention at his announcement on Tuesday to create a team to reform New Orleans. Fielkow, widely popular in the Crescent City for his public break with Tom Benson on moving the NFL football franchise, was reportedly asked by Forman both to serve in a senior position should he win the City's top job and to join him on the campaign trail.
The philosophy is simple, a friend of Fielkow related to this newspaper. "Arney can reach people that Ron can't... And vice versa. The people the two of them know, from a fund-raising standpoint, is unbeatable. They make an incredible team."
Presumably, the former Saints VP would bring a wealth of contacts to the financial coffers of the campaign, but he would also provide Democratic cover for Forman. The Audubon Institute President left the GOP in March of 2003, though well before he entertained thoughts of running for Mayor. Nevertheless, to both New Orleans' affluent Uptown and Fabourg Marigny liberals and to much of the City's African-American population, comparatively recent change in Republican registration could prove the proverbial "kiss of death".
Forman, once a Democrat when an aide to then Mayor Moon Landrieu, changed parties years ago, and was a high profile backer of John McCain's 2000 bid for President. Fielkow's support for Democrats on the national level is well known, and his wife, a prominent physician, has worked with party activists.
According to sources, Fielkow would run almost as a "Deputy Mayor" to Forman, under the Audubon Institute President's proposal, raising money and campaigning.
How this would work logistically or legally however, remains unclear. Would Fielkow become CAO if Forman won, as there is no official office of Deputy Mayor? Would a city that has rarely voted for a fix slate of candidates, and never for a ticket on any level except President, warm to such a proposal?