LaToya Cantrell’s first attempt as mayor to influence a local election failed recently, but it may be too soon to judge the true length of her coattails.
That’s because she endorsed, not in a municipal race, but in the race for King Zulu 2019. And her candidate, George V. Rainey, lost by an apparently close margin to Naaman Stewart, the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club’s president.
A bitter two-man race for King Zulu 2019 may not be over yet.
“Mr. Rainey has worked diligently for his beloved organization and DESERVES to be elected King Zulu 2019,” Cantrell said in a mailer Rainey sent to Zulu’s membership before the vote.
Rainey also was backed by state Sen. Troy Carter and Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice, both Zulu members, according to the mailer. Clerk of 2nd City Court Darren Lombard and Constable of 2nd City Court Edwin Shorty also endorsed him, as did City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer.
Meanwhile, Stewart received the backing of 11 former Zulu kings, former Mayor Marc Morial and three former Zulu board members, according to a separate mailer.
Stewart, who has been the club's president for six years, was elected May 27, according to a widely circulated Facebook video of the election.
The popular parading organization has held elections since it was founded in 1909, and races for high-profile Carnival positions can be as spirited as any local political race, though the candidates are supposed to show respect for their fellow members.
Communications from the Stewart and Rainey camps showed a heated affair. For example, in a March letter, Rainey scoffed at “untruths” such as the rumor that he was running because he disliked Stewart.
Stewart, in a separate letter, said that while “out of respect, I would have never run against Mr. Rainey, it does not seem the sentiment is mutual.”