Candidate for mayor LaToya Cantrell talks with a panel of students during a debate with Desiree Charbonnet at Tulane University in New Orleans, La. Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Students asked questions of the candidates and represented Dillard University, Southern University New Orleans, Loyola University, Tulane University, University of New Orleans and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON

I wrote the other day that LaToya Cantrell, who started out the New Orleans mayoral runoff contest as the frontrunner, doesn't need a game-changing development before voters return to the polls next month.

Her opponent Desiree Charbonnet does.

And while the Charbonnet campaign's discovery through public records requests that Cantrell had used her City Council credit card for personal and campaign charges doesn't upend the campaign's existing dynamics, it sure doesn't help Cantrell's cause.

Cantrell has reimbursed the city for $8,950 in such expenses, including a lump sum of $4,433 just after she qualified for mayor. The numbers aren't necessarily career-ending, but nor are they insignificant.

And while the Charbonnet campaign is inevitably overselling the discovery, Cantrell's claim that her repayments just prove that she's above-board aren't very convincing. Her best possible excuse was that she was sloppy with public money. Repaying it is what you do when you know how it looks.

No matter how Cantrell spins things, it doesn't look good.

It's too soon to say whether this alone could shift momentum in Charbonnet's direction, but Wednesday, when the news broke, was clearly her campaign's first really good day since she finished nine points behind in the primary.

She'll likely need more of them to make this a close race.

Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.