Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Marc H. Morial Biography - Entered Mayoral Race, Curbed Crime In New Orleans, Earned Respect As Mayor And Organization Leader

Marc H. Morial - Entered Mayoral Race

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By the early 1990s, Morial's hometown of New Orleans was in trouble. The city's skyrocketing crime and murder rates attracted national media attention and began to undermine the financial health of a city heavily dependent on tourism. In addition, there were several highly publicized incidents of police brutality and allegations of widespread corruption within the police department. Believing he could turn New Orleans around, Morial decided to enter the mayoral race.

Morial announced his candidacy for mayor in late 1993 at a press conference in which he exhorted, "We need to clean up City Hall with a shovel and not a broom!" according to his biography on his personal Web site. Although still relatively inexperienced politically, Morial was an enthusiastic campaigner who quickly gathered popular support. Most African-American adults still held his father, Dutch Morial, in high regard and were willing to throw their support behind his son. The mayoral race intensified dramatically when Morial's top opponent, Donald Mintz, a Jewish lawyer long active in New Orleans politics, tried to divide the city's electorate along racial lines. During the campaign anonymous, racially-charged fliers began appearing across the city. Many of these fliers denounced Mintz with slogans such as "Stop the Colored/Jew Coalition," and one depicting Mintz with a man resembling Nelson Mandela.

Morial and his campaign team accused the Mintz camp of creating the offensive fliers themselves, and were partially vindicated. The New Orleans Human Relations Commission launched an inquiry, and found that at least two fliers originated from within the Mintz organization. More damaging to Mintz, however, was the fact that his campaign staff had used the fliers in a national fundraising effort to evoke sympathy for victims of anti-Semitism. These fundraising efforts helped generate $200,000 in donations for the Mintz campaign. The National Jewish Relations Advisory Council in New York "had concluded that they [the fliers] were probably not the work of hate groups," according to Ronald Smothers in the New York Times.

At a Glance...

Born Marc H. Morial on January 3, 1958, in New Orleans, LA; son of Ernest "Dutch" (a lawyer, judge, and politician) and Sybil (a teacher) Morial; married Michelle Miller. children: Kemah and Mason. Education: University of Pennsylvania, BA, 1980; Georgetown University, JD, 1983. Politics: Democrat.

Career: Barham & Churchill, New Orleans, LA, associate, 1983-85; Marc H. Morial Professional Law Corp., New Orleans, LA, managing partner, 1985-94; Xavier University, adjunct professor of political science, 1987-90; Louisiana State Senator, District Four, 1992-94; City of New Orleans, mayor, 1994-2002; Adams and Reese (law firm), New Orleans, attorney, 2002; National Urban League, president and CEO, 2003–.

Memberships: American Bar Association, National Bar Association, Louisiana Trial Lawyers Association, National Conference of Black Lawyers, Louisiana State Bar Association, Harare, chair, 1983-86, Louisiana Association of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses, Louisiana Special Olympics, board of directors, 1991–.

Awards: Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Shriver Award for Equal Justice, 2004.

Addresses: Office— The National Urban League, 120 Wall Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY, 10005.

Until the hate literature debacle, Mintz had been slightly ahead of Morial in the polls. On election day, Mintz received more votes than Morial, but was unable to win a clear majority. As a result, a runoff election was scheduled to determine a winner. In the weeks heading up to the runoff election, the campaign grew increasingly bitter. There were allegations that Morial had once been admitted to a hospital for an erratic heartbeat. Allegedly, Morial had told medical personnel that he had snorted cocaine earlier that evening, a claim that Morial strongly denied. Voters, however, were not swayed by the negative attacks on Morial. "Morial, despite his relative youth and perceived inexperience, has basked somewhat in the aura of his father's reputation for assertiveness and savvy," declared Smothers. His New York Times article went on describe the toll that rampant crime and financial mismanagement had taken on New Orleans residents and how Morial's presence in the race had "evoked a time when a Morial was in City Hall and things were better," wrote Smothers.

Marc H. Morial - Curbed Crime In New Orleans [next]

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