By Jim Ellis
April 1, 2021 — The Louisiana special congressional election between two New Orleans Democratic state senators appears to be tightening after the perceived underdog just scored an important endorsement that could help produce a closer than anticipated finish on April 24.
Chambers, the third-place finisher, announced Wednesday that he is endorsing Sen. Peterson. With his 23 percent of the vote, Chambers can be a major influence in the runoff election. This is particularly true within the East Baton Rouge and Orleans parishes, where he performed well.
Also, the Congressional Progressive Caucus organization began running television advertising Wednesday that thanked Sen. Peterson for voting to expand the number of those eligible for Medicaid health benefits.
The outside CPC assistance supports the Peterson campaign strategy. One of her main goals is to identify herself as the more progressive of the two candidates. In this same vein, for example, she draws the distinction between her position and that of Sen. Carter regarding the Green New Deal. His public statements for the program have not been as strongly favorable as Sen. Peterson’s.
Another interesting facet of this double Democratic runoff is how the few Republican voters in the district will break. While the Peterson strategy is designed to win the preponderance of left-of-center base voters, Sen. Carter has an opportunity with the more moderate faction within his own party and the Republicans who will choose to vote in an election that features only Democratic contenders.
Though the GOP is a clear minority in the district – only 12 percent of the 528,862 registered voters are Republican as compared to 63 percent for Democrats – a total of 15,558 individuals voted for a Republican candidate in the original March 20 election. A total of 94,567 people cast their ballot in that contest. Therefore, in a close runoff contest, the number of returning GOP voters could conceivably become the deciding factor.
The 2nd District fully contains St. James Parish and parts of nine others, but 80 percent of the CD population resides in the Orleans, Jefferson, and East Baton Rouge parishes. Virtually all of the city of New Orleans is included in the 2nd and about a quarter of Baton Rouge, which lies approximately 80 miles away.
Demographically, 51.5 percent of the district’s residents are female, 22.3 percent are under the age of 18, while 15.3 percent are over 65. Racially, the district divides as 61.2 percent black, 28.2 percent white, 6.0 percent Latino, and 2.6 percent Asian. A total of 5.7 percent of the residents are foreign born.
The mean average household income tops $65,000, while over 293,000 individuals are classified as employees. The Census Bureau reports 16,130 business establishments within the district’s confines, and the populace features 25.5 percent holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.