Louisiana special election to replace Richmond heads to runoff

Bonnie Cash

The Louisiana special election to replace former Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) is heading to a runoff between state Sen. Troy Carter (D) and state Sen. Karen Peterson (D) after no candidate won a majority of the votes on Saturday.

Carter had 36 percent of the ballots cast compared to Peterson’s 23 percent.

The race for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which spans from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, was hotly contested by 15 contenders. The rare vacancy for the deep blue seat was opened when Richmond joined the White House as a top aide to President Biden.

Richmond, who remains influential among Democrats in the district, endorsed Carter, who came to run heavily on his support and suggested that he would be able to present constituents’ needs directly to the White House.

Peterson emerged as the other top contender in the race. Peterson campaigned on connections she’s made working in the state legislature and the Democratic National Committee, knocking Carter for his supposed reliance on Richmond’s endorsement and saying she, too, had ties to top administration officials. 

The top-two vote getters will face off in an April runoff. 

The vacancy set off a rush of Democrats vying for a rare spot in Congress representing Louisiana. The Bayou State has become so red that the 2nd Congressional District is the only one of Louisiana’s six House seats held by a Democrat.

The seat is safely blue, and Democrats have held it continuously through all of its forms since 1891, except for one term from 2009-2011. That virtually ensures whoever wins the runoff will be a favorite for reelection in future cycles.

The ultimately winner may also look to take a page out of Richmond’s playbook while serving in the House. The Louisiana Democrat was able to use his seat as a springboard for broader power, ultimately becoming chair of the influential Congressional Black Caucus and an adviser to Biden, helping him land his White House perch. 

Republican Julia Letlow also won a special election in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District Saturday to fill the seat vacated by her late husband, former Rep. Luke Letlow (R), who died from COVID-19 complications in December.

Tags Cedric Richmond Joe Biden Julia Letlow Karen Peterson Luke Letlow Troy Carter

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