LA-2: Social and Regional Divides & #3 Endorses Jefferson

Today's Press Conference

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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 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."
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.

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.

Tags: Derrick Shepherd, karen carter, katrina, LA-2, William Jefferson (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Good work

Tim, you are a study in how to dive in and get busy.    I'm learning a lot.

by drowsy 2006-11-17 04:36PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Social and Regional Divide

The comm director, eh?

Well I feel that they are less inclined with talking to a 'side' that has already backed the opponent but only good -- new info can come out of it.

Good stuff and good recap so far.

-- MrMacMan

by MrMacMan 2006-11-17 06:03PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Social and Regional Divides

Good post, Tim. It might also be interesting for you to chat with Derrick Shepherd; he's a more interesting and enthusiastic liar than Dollar Bill.

by Adrastos 2006-11-17 07:36PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Social and Regional Divides

I just read a big profile of Shepherd in the T-P. He seems to be very focused on the issues that make the biggest difference for his constituents - like banning low riding pants.

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/i ndex.ssf?/base/news-6/1161325345179470.x ml&coll=1&thispage=1

I was looking at the demographics of Jefferson Parish and the map of Shepherd state Senate district and there are some interesting details. Shepherd has a weird shaped district that for a long stretch is only a narrow band of land by the river. From a distance it doesn't look like Shepherd speaks for 'Jefferson Parish' so much as a narrow band of Jefferson Parish. I don't think 'Shepherd' and 'Jefferson Parish' are interchangeable when trying to put votes in one camp or another.

Here are the maps.

Shepherd's State Senate district (3)
http://senate.legis.state.la.us/Senators /CurrentMaps/3.pdf

LA-2 district map
http://nationalatlas.gov/printable/image s/preview/congdist/LA02_109.gif

by joejoejoe 2006-11-17 08:35PM | 0 recs
Re: LA-2: Social and Regional Divides

This race is about power, pure and simple. The Jeffersons and Carters are blood enemies as are their political groups: the Progressive Dems (Dollar Bill) and BOLD.

Derrick Shepherd doesn't actually care about the social issues he cited as a reason for opposing Carter: it's all about positioning himself for the next Congressional election.

by Adrastos 2006-11-18 05:06AM | 0 recs
Work and Workers in NOLA

Tim:
Don't know how much experience you have with New Orleans...so pardon me if I tell you stuff you already know.

The rules on work and workers in New Orleans tend to be unenforced or unenforcable. You will see unsafe acts, questionable disposal of debris, and innumerable OSHA and EPA violations. This is not strictly a Post-Katrina phenom.

Don't let the mess of the cleanup get confused with a messy cleanup, which is not so unusual.  

In addition, The Grey Market and under-the-radar employment practices are a longstanding situation in New Orleans, like with most major cities. Also, the corruption of Louisiana lawmakers and officials is well documented. One just wonders "Why the Freezer?" when the family checking account is the norm.

PS, Don't forget to check in on the only computer service shop in the Qtr:

and no, I don't know what "tessa on soon" means. what is "soon"?

by tessa 2006-11-18 12:02PM | 0 recs
ignore that last bit about "soon"

i am not as hip and i look

by tessa 2006-11-18 12:03PM | 0 recs
never mind

i an not as hip as i look. Nor as smart.
But,
Dude,
I still have my post-election exhaustion.

Have a great Turducken Thanksgiving!

by tessa 2006-11-18 12:06PM | 0 recs

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