Judge Ernest N. (Dutch) Morial, the first black candidate to make a serious run for the New Orleans mayor's job finished on top in Saturday's open primary and probably face state Sen. Nat Kiefer in the Nov. 12 runoff.
The air of uncertainty is caused by the 107 votes that separate Keifer, 38, who placed second, from City Councilman Joseph V. DiRosa. 60, who placed third. While Morial, 48, clealry was out in fornt in unofficial totals with 42,185 votes, (26.7 per cent) Kiefer received 37,656 (23.8 per cent) to DiRosa's 37,549 (23.7 per cent).
Voting machines will be checked and totals certified Tuesday.
Of the four major candidates, state Rep. deLessops S. (Toni) Morrison Jr., the 33-year-old son of the late mayor, finished last with 32,009 votes (20 per cent). There were seven other candidates - but no Republicans - in the race to succeed Moon Landrieu, who is barred by law from serving a third term.
If Morial faces Kiefer in the runoff, it would be a contest between the candidates who spent the least and the most in the primary. According to the latest campaign finance reports Kiefer spent slightly more than $435,000, while Morial spent just under $96,000.
Approximately 42 per cent of New Orleans' 219,328 registered voters are black, and samplings from procincts with heavy black registration showed that Morial received about 28 per cent of the black vote. Most of the rest of the black vote went to Morrison and Kiefer.
Before the first primary, Morial had said DiRosa would be the candidate he would prefer to face in the runoff because of the sharp contrast between the two. DiRosa, whose standing in the black community is not strong as Kiefer's and Morrison's has appealed to older, more conservative while and Italian voters, while Morial has sought votes of blacks and liberal whites.
Kiefer ran strongly in eastern New Orleans, his home territory, and Algiers, which is across the Mississippi from downtown New Orleans.
Morial's primary victory was another in a career of "first." The first black graduate of Louisiana State University Law School. Morial in 1967 became the first black elected to the state House of Representatives in the 20th century.
DiRosa beat him for a councilman-at-large spot in 1969, but in 1970, Morial was appointed a Orleans Parish (County) Juvenile Court judge. Two years later, he was elected to the state's Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.