But the surprise didn't last long. Matalin's support fits a very simple narrative: mayoral politics in the particular political cockpit of New Orleans is now about competence and stability.
As we saw with Jindal's win post-Katrina - supported by a number of Democrats who would otherwise despise his stances - it seems there's now a bottom line with the electorate. The colorful politicians of the past, as entertaining and charming as they were, have hurt a little too much to be worth it. I think enough of the electorate, in New Orleans and the state, now sees that a stable and competent candidate is more important than ideological considerations in the context of rebuilding.
While it wasn't the only factor - and probably not the decisive factor - I think we saw some of that thinking and action shine through with the Cao victory over Jefferson in the Second Congressional.
In the race to replace the blundering blunderbuss approach of Mayor Nagin, Matalin's support of Landrieu makes sense. Landrieu, at the very least, appears to offer some semblance of competence, stability, and predictability in his approach to running the city, even if he isn't necessarily all that inspiring or new. I don't know if that logic is enough to get my support in the end.
But it's part of what makes me like Arnie Fielkow's presence in the local political landscape - and one of the reasons I interned for him last semester. While we don't necessarily agree on political or ideological issues outside of - and sometimes even inside - city politics, he expects a baseline from government. And from elected officials. And in the sometimes bewildering and usually dynamic setting of post-Katrina city politics, it was something I could respect. And something that the city clearly needs.