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Louisiana Special Election: Democratic State Senators Face Off For U.S. House Seat

Louisiana state Sens. Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter, pictured on Jan. 20, are in a runoff election in the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat on Saturday.
Melinda Deslatte
Louisiana state Sens. Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter, pictured on Jan. 20, are in a runoff election in the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat on Saturday.

Editor's Note: Troy Carter won Saturday's runoff.

Two Louisiana state senators will go head-to-head in a runoff election Saturday that will determine who will succeed a White House adviser in the U.S. House.

State Sens. Karen Carter Peterson and Troy Carter, both Democrats, will compete for the 2nd Congressional District seat left vacant by Cedric Richmond, whom President Biden tapped to serve as the White House's director of public engagement.

The majority-Black district includes most of New Orleans.

Carter and Peterson were the top two finishers in a crowded open primary last month. In that contest, Carter received about 36% of the vote, while Peterson finished second with 23% of ballots cast, narrowly edging out Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers Jr. for a spot in Saturday's runoff.

Both candidates have previously made unsuccessful bids to represent the 2nd District.

Carter won an endorsement from Richmond earlier this year, just before the former congressman left his position for the Biden administration. Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member, has also received the backing of Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and other notable members of Congress.

"In my last act as your congressman, I am proud to support Sen. Troy Carter for Congress," Richmond said in a video. "As a Democratic leader in the Senate, Troy has led the fight for working families in Louisiana and pushed an agenda for women and young people."

Peterson's supporters include Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia House minority leader and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, and LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans.

"In Congress, [Peterson] will serve as a champion for justice, Covid relief, voting rights and more," Abrams wrote on Twitter.

Peterson, a former state party chair, would be the first Black woman to represent Louisiana in Congress.

A victory for either candidate means that Democrats will increase their narrow majority in the U.S. House, which currently has 218 Democrats and 212 Republicans. Richmond's former seat is one of five current vacancies.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. CT.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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