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Troy Carter Defeats Karen Carter Peterson In 2nd Congressional District Runoff

Louisiana State Senator Troy Carter, a Democrat, defeated fellow state Senator and New Orleanian Karen Carter Peterson in a special congressional election to fill the U.S. House seat once occupied by Cedric Richmond.

With very little separating the candidates ideologically, the race boiled down to a question of style.

Voters ultimately sided with Troy Carter, whose reputation as a pragmatist won him the support of the Democratic party establishment, over Karen Carter Peterson, who positioned herself as the more progressive candidate in the race.

Carter secured a 10-point victory in Saturday’s election, earning 48,511 votes. Peterson brought in 39,295 in the low-turnout election. The Secretary of State estimated turnout was just shy of 17 percent of eligible voters.

Carter ran with the endorsement of his predecessor Cedric Richmond, who left his seat earlier this year for a job as a senior advisor in the Biden administration. He also netted endorsements from the vast majority of his Democratic colleagues in the state legislature as well as prominent Biden allies Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

Carter invoked Richmond in his victory speech.

“As Congressman Richmond led for 10 years, I will wake up every day with you on my mind, you on my heart, and I will work tirelessly,” he told supporters.

Carter said he would focus on COVID-19 recovery, raising the minimum wage and reform the nation’s criminal justice and health care systems.

Peterson, the former state Democratic party chairwoman who hoped to be the first Black woman in Louisiana to be elected to Congress, conceded less than two hours after the polls closed.

Peterson drew the bulk of her endorsements and campaign contributions from outside of Louisiana. She was favored by the progressive wing of the party and had the backing of Stacy Abrams, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and EMILY’s List.

She congratulated Carter and said she would “keep swinging hard for the people.”

Carter and Peterson had far more things in common than set them apart. Both supported efforts to raise the minimum wage, legalized recreational marijuana, and support abortion rights. They both supported “Medicare for All” in name, though each had a slightly different understanding of what that program might look like. Peterson embraced a government-run, single-payer system while Carter, like President Joe Biden, advocated for a public option while preserving people’s ability to keep private health insurance financed by their employers.

But as the race wore on, both candidates' attacks became more personal.

Carter frequently used that out-of-state support to characterize Peterson as out of touch with her would-be constituents. He further criticized her for missing votes in the state senate.

Peterson said Carter’s bipartisan appeal showed his willingness to cozy-up with Trump loyalists, and she criticized him for taking donations from the oil and gas industry, questioning his commitment to helping marginalized communities in the River Parishes that neighbor petrochemical facilities.

In his victory speech, Carter asked his supporters to put the acrimony of the race behind them.

“This was a hard-fought race and now it’s time to come together,” Carter said. “I welcome everyone to our tent, because this election is over and it’s time to get to work.”

Gov. John Bel Edwards congratulated Carter in a written statement issued shortly after the race was called.

“Troy has proven himself as a strong leader in his hometown of New Orleans and in the Louisiana Legislature,” Edwards said. “Louisiana now, more than ever, needs bold advocates to fight for the many needs of our great state in Washington, D.C. I am confident that Troy will dutifully fill this role along with the rest of our current delegation, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
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