By Jim EllisApril 27, 2021 — In a race pitting the Louisiana Democratic establishment opposite the national progressive left Justice Democrats’ movement, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), the establishment candidate, defeated state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) who the Justice Democrats supported, to win the 2nd Congressional District special election on Saturday night.
The district, open because former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) resigned from Congress to accept a position in the Biden White House, featured a double-Democratic runoff, meaning the party was guaranteed to hold the seat, but which faction ultimately would end up with the win was open to question.
In the end, the competitive and at times nasty campaign between the two state legislators culminated in a 55-45 percent win for Sen. Carter, a margin of 9,216 votes. The unofficial final turnout figure was 87,806, a little less than 6,800 voters under the original March 20th primary participation factor of 94,567. The figures translated into a vote drop-off percentage rate of 7.2.
Sen. Carter captured six of the 10 parishes that comprise the 2nd District. He recorded a big win in Jefferson Parish (67-33 percent), the district’s second-largest local entity. The now representative-elect performed better only in St. Charles Parish (70-30 percent). As was the case in the primary election, Sen. Peterson’s greater strength came in the Baton Rouge area, and the pattern repeated itself on Saturday.
The district’s largest locality, Orleans Parish, which encompasses the city of New Orleans, produced a little more than half of Saturday’s turnout. The parish yielded a close vote with Sen. Carter prevailing there with only 53 percent in the area where both candidates call home.
Each contender spent upward of $1 million for their campaigns, with outside organizations also weighing in with equivalent expenditures.
When Rep-Elect Carter is sworn into the House, the Democratic conference will grow to 219 members as compared to 212 Republicans. The GOP number will drop to 211 on May 16 when Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) resigns his seat.
The remaining five vacancies will be settled throughout the rest of the year. Next Saturday, the jungle primary in TX-6 will begin the replacement process to succeed the late Texas US Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington). A total of 23 candidates are in the field including the congressman’s widow, Susan Wright (R).
A new Data for Progress poll (April 5-12; 344 likely TX-6 special election voters, text and web panel response) finds Wright leading the huge pack of candidates (11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, 1 Libertarian, 1 Independent) with 22TX-6 preference. In second place is 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez who posted 16TX-6 support. State Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), who has been the subject of independent expenditure attacks from conservative groups, follows with 13TX-6 . No other contender exceeds 10 percent.
The tight Data for Progress survey result, a range that several other public and private pollsters confirm, clearly suggests that we will see a secondary runoff election because no one will come close to receiving majority support. Under Texas election law, the runoff cannot be scheduled until the official vote canvass declares that no one reached the 50 percent plateau. At that point, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will call the special election between the top two finishers which will likely occur in late June.
After the North Texas vote, the June 1 New Mexico special election to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who resigned the Albuquerque anchored seat to join the Biden cabinet, will be held. The two parties have already nominated state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) and state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) in a seat that now decidedly favors the Democrats.
The Ohio vacancy to replace Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland-Akron) is scheduled for an Aug. 3 primary and Nov. 2 general election. It is probable that Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will also schedule the Stivers’ district on a concurrent schedule once that seat officially opens.
The final vacancy, that of the late Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach), has not yet been scheduled. Should the two parties each hold all their risked seats, the House will return to a 222D-213R party division.