|Name||Ben C. Toledano|
New Orleans, Louisiana , United States
|| September 07, 1932
|Last Modifed||None Entered|
Jan 02, 2007 03:49pm
|Info||Benjamin Casansa "Ben" Toledano (born 1932) is a paleoconservative author, activist, and attorney who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1970 and for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana in 1972. |
Prior to filing as the lone Republican candidate for mayor, Toledano had been a member, first, of the Democratic Party, and, then, of the States' Rights Party. He sought to succeed the retiring two-term Democratic Mayor Victor H. Schiro in 1970. The Democrats had a slugfest for the office in two primaries held in the fall of 1969. The more liberal candidate, Maurice "Moon" Landrieu was placed in a runoff -- this was before Louisiana had its jungle primary format -- with the more conservative former City Councilman James Edward "Jimmy" Fitzmorris, Jr., who would be elected lieutenant governor three years later and served from 1972-1980.
When Landrieu defeated Fitzmorris with a vow to carry on the liberal legacies of his predecessors, including deLesseps Story Morrison, Sr., (service: 1946-1961), and then Mayor Schiro, Republicans sensed a rare opportunity in the Crescent City. Toledano appeared initially to be a strong contender for the position, for he picked up the support of many Fitzmorris leaders and waged an intense, well-organized, and heavily-financed campaign. Toledano noted that blacks had voted overwhelmingly for Landrieu, who would later serve in the Jimmy Carter administration as secretary of housing and urban development, but he mostly stressed the "need-for-a-change" theme always available for nearly any southern Republican seeking office at that time.
The 1970 mayoral race concluded with the highest turnout until that time in the history of the city, some 70 percent of registrants. Black participation in the general election surpassed what it had been in the Landrieu-Fitzmorris runoff. It was estimated that 80 percent of blacks cast ballots, and 98 percent supported Landrieu, the father of the state's current Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu. Indeed, the Landrieus built a political dynasty, with their strength also demonstrated statewide.
Moon Landrieu received 94,332 (59 percent) votes, compared to 65,558 (41 percent) for Toledano. The Republican won 60 percent of the votes of whites. Two shifts in the voting behavior of whites in New Orleans, soon to become a distinct minority of the city's population, occurred between the Democratic runoff and the general election. A number of upper and middle income precincts in the Uptown University area and in Algiers, switched from Landrieu to Toledano, mostly those which had voted Republican]] for president in the past. The 25 white precincts with the highest socio-economic status switched from Landrieu to Toledano. The other white voter change occurred in the mid-city area, where numerous middle-to-lower economic status precincts which had favored Fitzmorris in the runoff remained with the Democratic nominee in the general election. Otherwise, the Toledano vote pattern was similar to that for Fitzmorris.
Toledano's vote was patterned more on that of the 1968 George C. Wallace, Sr., support in New Orleans than the tabulation for the Republican ticket of Richard M. Nixon and Spiro T. Agnew. Nixon had won 26.7 percent in Orleans Parish, compared to 32.7 percent for Wallace, and 40.6 percent for Vice President Hubert Humphrey. In the runoff, Landrieu scored well with former Nixon supporters, but he lost to Toledano a number of white precincts which Nixon had carried less than two years earlier. Three Louisiana political scientists who analyzed the New Orleans mayoral returns concluded that Republicans could never become competitive unless they appealed to "the more moderate instincts of the upper and upper-middle socio-economic status white voters . . . as well as the black voters." Of course, the racial composition of New Orleans changed drastically in the coming decade, and the white vote was significant thereafter only as a swing bloc vote between two black candidates. The political scientists underestimated the attrition of the white population from New Orleans. In 1978, New Orleans elected its first black mayor, and all mayors since that time have been blacks.
 Challenging J. Bennett Johnston and John McKeithen
Toledano's showing propelled him in 1972 to seek the U.S. Senate seat held by 36-year incumbent Democrat Allen J. Ellender. He filed as the Republican candidate, and former state senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport challenged Ellender in the Democratic primary. Ellender died on July 27, and Johnston was left as the de facto Democratic nominee. Former Governor John McKeithen then filed as an independent because the time had passed for Democrats to enter the primary. Johnston entered the general election as the prohibitive favorite even though McKeithen had been the only governor up until that time to serve two consecutive terms and even though Richard Nixon appeared to be coasting to an easy reelection and might have some level of coattails for a candidate like Toledano.
Johnston polled 598,987 votes (55.2 percent); McKeithen drew 250,161 (23.1 percent), and Toledano finished third with 206,846 (19.1 percent). Hall M. Lyons (1923-1998) of Lafayette, son of Charlton Lyons, the "grand old man of the Louisiana GOP," polled another 28,910 votes, or 2.6 percent, as the nominee of George Wallace's former American Independent Party. Hall Lyons had filed for governor earlier in 1972 on the AIP ticket but was persuaded to withdraw in favor of Republican David C. Treen. Treen would be elected to the United States House of Representatives from the Third Congressional District in this same 1972 general election.
Toledano's performance was extremely weak. His best showing was a meager 30 percent in Jefferson Parish, which supported Treen for Congress and Nixon for president. In previously inclined Republican parishes Iberia and Caddo, for instance, Toledano failed to win even a fourth of the vote.
 Paleoconservative columnist
Toledano returned to his law practice, with his political ventures seemingly in his past. Years later, he emerged as a columnist, author, and political thinker, writing for William F. Buckley's National Review and Thomas Fleming's Chronicles Magazine, a paleoconservative publication from Rockford, Illinois. Paleoconservatives generally follow the viewpoints of such individuals as the defeated presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan or the late columnist Samuel Francis. They believe that "neoconservatives" in national Republican adminstrations have "sold out" traditional Republican values to keep the United States involved in endless war to promote "democracy" and to promote international trade agreements which lead to outsourcing of American jobs. Toledano hence writes in the Buchanan-Francis mold by taking what the media would call "hard-right" positions on issues. Over the years, Toledano alienated many politicians.
In 1981, Governor Edwin Washington Edwards said that he expected to draw considerable Republican support when he ran for a third term in 1983 against sitting Republican Governor Treen. But, Edwards clarified, "I would not want Ben Toledano supporting me … he’s poison. I don’t want him involved in my campaign." Toledano replied: "Most people don’t receive very many special compliments in a lifetime. I am deeply flattered by Edwards’ remarks. Love me most for the enemies I have made."
In 2004, Toledano wrote a review of Kevin Phillips's American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. Toledano was as critical of the Bushes as any Democrat had been: "There was a time when people in high places believed in avoiding even the appearance of impropriety. Phillips' book suggest that the Bushes do not even know what propriety is." Toledano continued, in reference to the religious conversion of George W. Bush: "I choose not to question the sincerity of George W.’s conversion and faith . . . Unlike his father, whose deeds defy and defile his words, he may well be a true believer even if he uses his beliefs to obtain political support and votes."
Toledano resides in Hurricane Katrina-damaged Pass Christian, Mississippi, east of New Orleans.