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Troy Carter Will Be Lone Democrat in Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation

April 30, 2021 by Dan McCue
Troy Carter Will Be Lone Democrat in Louisiana’s Congressional Delegation
Representative-elect Troy Carter

BATON ROUGE – When State Sen. Troy Carter won a special runoff election to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District last Saturday, the moderate Democrat did more than give his party a little more breathing room in the narrowly controlled Congress.

He also overcame a challenger backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a slew of national lliberal groups.

When all the votes were counted, Carter defeated fellow state Democratic Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, 56% to 44% in a race seen by many as a proxy for the intra-party tensions in the House.

The contest in the majority-Black district that stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge also served as a litmus test for the direction of the Democratic Party 100 days into President Joe Biden’s term.

Throughout the race, Carter, a former New Orleans council member, ran as a confirmed moderate and as someone willing to work across the aisle to get things done for his constituents.

Peterson, meanwhile, campaigned on priorities that included working to cancel student loan debt, divesting from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and decriminalizing sex work. 

She also said she wanted to work to deschedule marijuana on the federal level and touted her support for the Green New Deal.

The differences between the two candidates could not have been more stark. During their last debate before Saturday’s vote, Peterson called for comprehensive criminal justice and an investment in community policing.

Carter, on the other hand, vowed to “smart fund, not defund” the police.

“We should make sure that we stand with the good police officers while we prosecute the bad ones,” he said.

Following Saturday’s election results, the congressman-elected tweeted: “This was a hard fought race, and now it is time to come together. 

“The hard part starts now. We have so much work to do together. We celebrated upon victory. Today, we get back to work!” he added.

Peterson, meanwhile, said she was honored that so many in the district had believed in her.

She also wished Carter well in his new position in Washington and said in a written statement that she would continue to “keep fighting every day for our communities, our people, and the change we need.” 

Over the course of his career, Carter has distinguished himself in both local and state government.

He served for six years as the executive assistant to New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, and in 1991, became the first African-American to be elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from the 102nd District of New Orleans. 

He served on the Education Committee, Municipal Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee, and the Transportation & Highway Committee and served as the youngest floor leader representing the City of New Orleans in the Louisiana House of Representatives.

In 1994, Carter was elected to the New Orleans City Council representing District C, including the historic French Quarter and the New Orleans Westbank, and once again, was the first African-American to be elected to the position. 

In 2015, Carter was the first African-American to be elected and sworn in as senator for District 7 of Louisiana. Since being elected, he is the senate minority lead, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and the chairman of Labor & Industrial Relations.

Carter also serves on the Commerce, Consumer Protection, and International Affairs, Judiciary C, Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, Coastal Restoration and Flood Control, Homeland Security, and Military and Veterans Affairs Committees. He is also an elected member of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee, where he is the chairman of District C, and is the chairman of the board of the Algiers Development District.

This year’s runoff had an air of the familiar, Carter and Peterson last faced off in an electoral contest in 2006, when they were running against then-Rep. William Jefferson.

At the time Jefferson, a Democrat, was under investigation for corruption and would later be convicted. 

Peterson finished second in the primary and Carter a disappointing fifth. In Louisiana, the top-two primary finishers advance to a runoff. Peterson lost to Jefferson in the general election.

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