LA-2: Social and Regional Divides & #3 Endorses Jefferson
by Tim Tagaris, Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 03:17:53 PM EST
Local New Orleans Bloggers
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Wet Bank Guide
Tim's Nameless Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
List of over 100 Louisiana BlogsI'm looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of the local bloggers tomorrow afternoon to get a better understanding of the political landscape in the 2nd, but even my foreign eye recognized two key themes in the LA-2 run-off election: region and "social issues." I'm sure there's more, but these two were the most obvious earlier this afternoon at a press conference announcing the endorsement of Congressman Jefferson by State Senator Derrick Shepherd. Shepherd ran a close third in the primary election November 7 and fancies himself a bit of a kingmaker in the run-off. It was also pretty obvious he sees himself a candidate against either Carter or Jefferson in 2008.
Shepherd's primary viability and the importance of his endorsement has a lot of this has to do with the regional politics at play. In the second congressional district, around 30% of the registered voters come from Jefferson Parish where Shepherd is a State Senator, the rest come from Orleans. The percentage is probably even larger when you consider many residents from New Orleans still haven't returned post-Katrina. In the primary Shepherd received 34% of the parish votes -- Congressman Jefferson received 23% from the area and Karen Carter just eight percent. Here's where your memories from Katrina become quite relevant when discussing the regional political dynamics. Remember the story about the police officers with shotguns on the "other side of the bridge"blocking Katrina victims from New Orleans from crossing over and sening them back toward the Superdome and Convention Center? Well, they blocked them from entering Jefferson Parish, specifically Gretna, Louisiana. Gretna was the location for today's press conference, and among the political class (at least), there is little love loss for Karen Carter in that neck of the woods. Carter appeared in Spike Lee's documentary, "When the Levee's Broke" and pretty much blasted the Jefferson Parish police as un-American for stopping evacuees with shotguns and dogs after their two-hour hike across the bridge. While her words made her a hero to many, they didn't sit so well with some folks in the West Bank.
But the sheriff said he may work to defeat Carter because of her criticism of his deputies, who he says blocked the bridge to protect property and because there were no supplies or shelter for the evacuees on the West Bank. Evacuees countered that they had no intention of looting, and were simply seeking safety, but were stopped at gunpoint by Jefferson Parish law enforcement officers.It's unclear to me how much Carter's appearance in the documentary hurt her on the other side of the river, and I'm excited to pursue that question with the local bloggers tomorrow afternoon. Lord knows there's been no shortage of mentions about it in the local press, but maybe it's impact has been sensationalized? We'll see. But for his part, I don't think Shepherd even mentioned the bridge one time in his endorsement of Congressman Jefferson -- for him, the focus was Carter's stance on social issues. He repeated no less than five times that he could not support a candidate who believed in gay marriage. Step back for a quick second. We're in the South, and Karen Carter is pro-gay marriage. That's a courageous position to take. She has also found considerable favor among the different women's groups, including EMILY's List. But the only person Shepherd mentioned as much as Jefferson or Carter at his press conference was himself, and he repeatedly insisted the current congressman was the best choice to lead the district "for the next two years." Admittedly, I came into the conference with a pre-conceived notion: this "major endorsement" was happening because the smart money is on the congressman's removal from office in the next two years (one way or another), and if Carter is elected a lot of political ambition will fall by the wayside with the returns. I left unmoved from that notion.
"It's personal between her and me," Lee said. "I'm thinking of getting some people together who she so severely affronted by running her foul mouth. I may spend some money and get the clip of Spike Lee's film and show what she said about those of us on this side of the river."
You'll find a bit of video from the press conference in the right-bar of this post. Congressman Jefferson also talked a lot about Karen Carter's role in the insurance problems plaguing Katrina victims ... to me it seemed a bit out of context and entirely over-stated, but it probably signals a coming attack line I haven't seen in any reading I've done about the race before arriving.
Oh! I almost forgot. After the press conference I spoke with Congressman Jefferson's Communications Director and asked her for an interview. She pretty much told me that it would happen. I'm going to email her tonight, but will be completely upfront about the fact MyDD has endorsed Karen Carter. My only promise will be to provide an unedited video of the interview if it's eventually granted. I'm particularly interested in hearing from some of the New Orleans bloggers on what questions they'd like to see asked and answered by the congressman.