NEW ORLEANS (AP) Two men who had never run for office, a cable executive and the police chief, led 13 opponents in Saturday's primary for mayor and claimed the March 2 runoff.
With 401 of 442 precincts 91 percent reporting, Cox Cable executive Ray Nagin had 32,722 votes, or 28 percent. Richard Pennington, on leave as superintendent of police, had 27,663 votes, or 24 percent.
State Sen. Paulette Irons had 21,739 votes, or 19 percent. Only one other candidate, City Councilman Jim Singleton, had more than 10 percent of the vote. He had 15,456 votes, or 13 percent.
"This is about New Orleans growing," Nagin told his supporters. "It's about one of the greatest cities in America finally waking up and saying, 'We're sick and tired, and sick and tired of the same old politics."'
Pennington, in a speech claiming the second spot, said security would continue to be part of his campaign. "The Super Bowl is here; this is a safe city," he said.
A referendum passed on raising the city's minimum wage to $6.15 an hour, $1 above the national minimum, but legal challenges are certain.
With 91 percent of the precincts reporting, the vote was 64,314 yes to 36,851 no, a 64-36 split.
The mayor's race got off to a late start after Mayor Marc Morial mounted a campaign to lift the city's two-term limit. Voters soundly rejected the bid in October and the field of candidates ballooned.
Pennington, who has widespread name recognition as a popular reformer he is credited with cleaning up a corrupt police department was among the late entries.
Irons, 48, had been the only major aspirant before the third-term referendum. But she was hurt by Pennington's candidacy and the revelation that a brother described in campaign ads as a victim of "violence in the streets" actually died in a shootout with police after a robbery.
Nagin, 45, another late entrant and part owner of the New Orleans Brass hockey team, was endorsed by the city's daily newspaper, The Times-Picayune, and two weekly tabloids Gambit, the free alternative paper, and Louisiana Weekly, a paper aimed at black readers. He paid for almost all of his campaign.
Singleton, 68, has spent 24 years on the City Council. His age has been portrayed as a drawback for a high-profile job.