1982 New Orleans Mayoral Election

← 1977 February 6, 1982 (1982-02-06) and March 20, 1982 (1982-03-20) 1986 →
Dutch Morial Crop 1985.jpg
William Jefferson, official photo (cropped).jpg
Candidate Ernest Morial Ron Faucheux Bill Jefferson
Party Democratic Democratic Democratic
First-round vote 75,929 73,441 11,327
First-round percentage 46.9% 45.4% 6.98%
Second-round vote 100,703 88,583
Second-round percentage 53.2% 46.8%

Mayor before election

Ernest Morial

Elected Mayor

Ernest Morial

The New Orleans mayoral election of 1982 resulted in the reelection of Ernest Morial to a second term as mayor of New Orleans.


Elections in Louisiana—with the exception of U.S. presidential elections—follow a variation of the open primary system. Candidates of any and all parties are listed on one ballot; voters need not limit themselves to the candidates of one party. Unless one candidate takes more than 50% of the vote in the first round, a run-off election is then held between the top two candidates, who may in fact be members of the same party. In this election, the first round of voting was held on February 6, 1982, and the runoff was held on March 20.



Throughout the campaign, challengers Faucheux and Jefferson were able to make Morial the main campaign issue. Faucheux accused Morial of allowing the New Orleans Police Department to deteriorate and crime to rise, and emphasized the mayor's poor relations with City Council and the state Legislature. Jefferson accused Morial of having done little to aid the city's African-American community or to curb police brutality. Both major challengers argued that the mayor's abrasive personality hampered his leadership of the city.

Morial defended his record as mayor and emphasized the economic growth that had occurred during his term as mayor, including the development of many new buildings in the Central Business District, the construction of the New Orleans Convention Center, and industrial development in New Orleans East. He also cited his progress in eliminating bureaucracy and streamlining city governance. Morial was aided by endorsements by several black political organizations, including BOLD and SOUL, as well as the Louisiana Weekly newspaper and the Regular Democratic Organization.

Faucheux stressed his anti-crime credentials during his time in the state legislature, and made the transferral of sales tax revenue from the state to the city one of his major campaign promises. Faucheux was endorsed by the Alliance for Good Government.

Jefferson also emphasized that the city would need new sources of revenue, and promised to work to eliminate the homestead exemption on real estate tax. Jefferson's campaign was damaged by accusations by some black leaders that he was trying to divide the black community by challenging the city's first black mayor and forcing him into a runoff against a white opponent.


Primary, February 6

Candidate Votes received Percentage
Ernest Morial (incumbent) 75,929 46.94%
Ron Faucheux 73,441 45.35%
William J. Jefferson 11,327 6.98%
Rodney Fertel 462
Rashaad Ali 355
Leon Waters 347

While Morial was able to come out with more votes than Faucheux in the primary, four years of declining popularity meant that Morial received only about 15% of the white vote, compared with the 29% he received in the election of 1977. Morial received 90% of the black vote, while Faucheux was only able to get 1% of the black vote. Jefferson received about 7% support from both white and black voters.

Runoff, March 20

Candidate Votes received Percentage
Ernest Morial (incumbent) 100,703 53.21%
Ron Faucheux 88,583 46.79%

Morial was aided in the runoff by a concerted effort to bring out the black vote, using the slogan "Keep the Drive Alive." Black voters turned out in significantly higher proportion compared to their white counterparts; many black leaders framed the election as a chance to cement the political gains won by the civil rights movement and by the subsequent election of Morial to his first term.

Faucheux's endorsement by former mayor Moon Landrieu had little impact on the election, coming only three days before the runoff. According to the Times-Picayune's post-election analysis, Morial won by "holding a significant white crossover vote while increasing the black turnout and denying any of it to Faucheux."


Preceded by
1977 mayoral election
New Orleans mayoral elections Succeeded by
1986 mayoral election