Early voting beginning for Louisiana’s congressional runoff

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State Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, speaks about his campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat after signing up for the race on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. The seat is vacant because former U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond resigned to work for the Biden administration. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana voters across New Orleans, Baton Rouge and several southeastern parishes can begin casting early ballots Saturday in the April 24 runoff election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat that will remain firmly in Democratic hands.

Two Democratic state senators from New Orleans — Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson — are competing for the congressional position, after they were the top two vote-getters among 15 candidates in the March primary.

The job is open because Democratic congressman Cedric Richmond left to work for President Joe Biden after winning reelection in the fall. The seat represents a majority-Black district centered in New Orleans and extending up the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge.

The weeklong early voting period for the 2nd District race and other elections opens Saturday and continues through April 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on Sunday, at parish registrar of voters’ offices and other early voting locations around the state.

Richmond is backing Carter to follow him into the U.S. House.

Carter and Peterson differ more in style than policy positions, though Peterson has positioned herself as the more progressive candidate. Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member, is known more for his ability and willingness to work across party lines. Peterson, a one-time chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, is more overtly partisan in her approach.

Both have made previous unsuccessful bids for Congress.

Peterson squeaked into the runoff, narrowly edging out Gary Chambers Jr., a Baton Rouge community activist and local publisher who raised less money and has thrown his support to Peterson. If Peterson wins, she’d be the first Black woman elected to Congress from Louisiana.

Also on the ballot are special runoff elections for a seat on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education representing northwestern Louisiana and a seat in the state House of Representatives covering Jefferson Parish.

Several parishes also have elections for local positions and tax issues. The secretary of state’s office said 23 parishes have no elections on the April 24 ballot.

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