NEW ORLEANS – A pair of Democratic state senators from New Orleans claimed the most votes in a special election Saturday to replace former Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, who is now a senior adviser to President Biden.
State senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson (they are not related) will advance to the April 24 runoff that will determine whether the Black-majority district represents an overwhelming Democratic seat from the New Orleans along the Mississippi River Laker extends to Baton Rouge.
In a remarkably mild turnout, Mr. Carter garnered 36 percent of the vote, while Ms. Peterson claimed 23 percent in the 15-man field. Gary Chambers, a Baton Rouge activist, finished a surprisingly strong third place near Ms. Peterson for her strong support in white liberal generosity.
In another Louisiana special election, in the northern part of the state, Julia Letlow, a Republican, garnered more than 50 percent of the vote, winning a runoff and winning a seat that her husband, Luke, took before dying. was. Kovid-19 in December.
This year, Ms. Letlow is one of two widows who raced to claim House seats that were infested with the virus. In Texas, Susan Wright is attempting to succeed her late husband Ron Wright in a special election later this year.
It is in South Louisiana, however, where the first competitive congressional races of the Biden era are taking place.
Mr. Carter and Ms. Peterson are both veteran politicians and have roots in the competitive, and fractious, black political factions of New Orleans. Both have run for this seat before – both in 2006, and Mr. Carter again in 2008 – without success.
But when Mr. Richmond resigned after a decade in Congress to work for Mr. Biden, it gave Mr. Carter and Ms. Peterson a new opportunity to fulfill their long-term ambition.
With several New Orleans elections, the contest quickly became a proxy battle. When another of his local colleagues decided not to run, Mr. Richmond quickly supported Mr. Carter in hopes of stopping his rival, Ms. Peterson.
Realizing the popularity and dominance of his mentor in the West Wing, Mr. Carter has sought to capitalize on Mr. Richmond’s support. Mr. Carter said, “I will have the ear of the person who has the ear of the President of the United States.”
In response, Ms. Peterson sought to walk to the left, portraying herself as an anti-establishment Democrat, as she plays her role as a former state party president and her many national endorsements.
She rejected Mr. Carter’s calling card, stating that she had her own contacts in the Biden administration and that she “does not need anyone’s toe-to-ear.”
Given the intensity and history of their rivalry, as well as the often spicy politics of New Orleans, runoff can be hard fought.
Two of Louisiana’s most prominent Democratic officeholders have to be weighed and could prove to be consequential if they intervene. New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell shocked some in the city by not supporting Ms. Peterson, an aide, ahead of the first round of voting. Also present is Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has clashed with Ms. Peterson in the past and is widely believed to be Mr. Carter’s corner.
Perhaps the most important is the one that shows up to vote next month. Early voting took place before the all-party primary voting on Saturday – less than 6 percent of eligible voters cast ballots – and was slightly better on polling day.
The combination of the turbulent election of 2020, an epidemic that is now only showing signs of recurrence and, according to local authorities, no drama president has left electoral apathy. The Democratic strategist, Andrew Todzolo, said, “Grandpa Joe has actually taken the air out of the balloon, and it is not feverish about politics.”