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All-Republican runoff set for vacant Texas U.S. House seat

Susan Wright, widow of late U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, will face State. Rep. Jake Ellzey

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

ARLINGTON, Texas (CFP) — Susan Wright, the widow of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, claimed first place Saturday in a special election to fill his Texas’s 6th U.S. House District seat and will now face fellow Republican State Rep. Jake Ellzey in a runoff.

Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez finished just 354 votes behind Ellzey, narrowly missing a chance to set up her party to flip a suburban district in metro Dallas-Fort Worth that Donald Trump carried by just 3 points in November.

Michael Wood — a businessman and former Marine Corps officer who ran openly in the race as an anti-Trump Republican and charged that the GOP has devolved into a “cult of personality” — finished ninth in the 23-person field, showing the limits of that strategy in pro-Trump Texas.

Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey

In a low-turnout Saturday special election with a crowded field, Wright came in first with 15,052 votes (19%), with Ellzey coming in second with 10,851 (14%) and Sanchez in third with 10,497 (13%).

The final day of the contest was rocked by a robocall made in the district accusing Wright of murdering her husband, who died in February from COVID-19 while being treated for cancer. Her campaign contacted the FBI to investigate.

The runoff will be something of a rematch of the Republican runoff for the seat in 2018, when Ron Wright defeated Ellzey to represent the district, which includes Arlington and parts of Tarrant County, along with Ellis and Navarro counties to the south.

Susan Wright has been endorsed by Donald Trump. Ellzey has the support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who will set the date for the runoff.

Sanchez had been the Democratic nominee against Ron Wright in 2018, a race chronicled in the Showtime documentary “Surge.” But this time around, she was unable to coalesce enough of the Democratic vote to win a spot in the all-party contest, with the second and third-place Democrats in the field — Shawn Lassiter and Lydia Bean — winning nearly 10,000 votes between them.

The race — the second special election for a Republican-held seat since Trump’s loss in November — drew national attention due to a number of colorful candidates who entered the wide-open contest.

Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for a House seat in the Las Vegas area in 2020, parachuted into Texas to try again, airing an ad in which he carried an assault rifle and vowed to “strip power” from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a stance that raised eyebrows in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

He finished in 11th place.

Sery Kim, a Korean-American who served in the Small Business Administration under Trump, drew criticism when she said during a forum that she did not want Chinese immigrants in the United States “at all” and blamed them for bringing  COVID-19 into the United States.

She won just 888 votes and finished 16th.

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Democratic State Senator Troy Carter wins open Louisiana U.S. House seat

Carter defeats fellow State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson in 2nd District runoff

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — The Democratic establishment has claimed another victory in its ongoing battle with progressive insurgents, with Louisiana State Senator Troy Carter winning an intra-party runoff Saturday to claim the 2nd U.S. House District seat.

U.S. Rep.-elect Troy Carter, D-Louisiana

Carter won 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent for State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson. He  will replace Cedric Richmond, who resigned to take a job as the White House public engagement director in the Biden administration.

“We’ve had a long, hard-fought campaign, and God has blessed us with a victory,” Carter said in a victory address to supporters after the vote. “Your voice was heard at the ballot box, and now I want to go to Washington to be your voice.”

Carter, who led in the first round of voting in April, was endorsed by Richmond and also had support from much of the Democratic establishment and major unions.

Carter-Peterson had support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and from liberal grassroots group such as Democracy for America and Our Revolution, a group spun out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Carter-Peterson was trying to become the first black woman ever elected to Congress from the Pelican State.

The majority black 2nd District includes most of New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge, along with the River Parishes between the two cities.

Carter-Peterson carried the parts of the district in and around Baton Rouge, but Carter beat her in the two largest parishes, Orleans and Jefferson.

His win will expand the Democratic majority in the House from two to three seats, with three Democratic-leaning seats also vacant in Florida, New Mexico and Ohio. Two Republican-held seats are open in Texas and Ohio.

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Runoff Saturday for open Louisiana U.S. House seat

Democratic State Senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter-Peterson vying in 2nd District race

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Voters in Louisiana’s 2nd U.S. House District will go to the polls Saturday to decide which of two Democratic state senators from New Orleans will be their next representative in Congress.

State Senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter-Peterson are competing in a runoff to replace Cedric Richmond, who resigned to take a job as the White House public engagement director in the Biden administration.

Polls for in-person voting open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Saturday.

State Senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter-Peterson

Carter, who has support from much of the Democratic establishment and major unions, led in the first round of voting in April, ahead of Carter-Peterson, who has support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and from liberal grassroots group such as Democracy for America and Our Revolution, a group spun out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Should she prevail on Saturday, Carter-Peterson would be the first black woman ever elected to Congress from the Pelican State.

The majority black 2nd District includes most of New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge, along with the River Parishes between the two cities.

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Florida U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings dies at 84

Democrat’s death narrows party’s House majority, sets off scramble for his South Florida seat

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

FloridaFORT LAUDERDALE (CFP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida, who launched a barrier-breaking, three-decade career in Congress after being impeached and removed from his post as a federal judge in 1989, died April 6 after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was 84.

hastings

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida

In a statement announcing his death, Hastings’s family said he “lived a full life with an indelible fighting spirit dedicated to equal justice. He believed that progress and change can only be achieved through recognizing and respecting the humanity of all mankind.”

Hastings was re-elected in November to his 15th term from the 20th U.S. House District, which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and areas inland toward Lake Okeechobee. He was the longest-serving member of the Sunshine State’s House delegation.

With Hastings’s death, Democrats have just a two-seat majority in the House. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis will now call a special election to fill the seat, which could leave it vacant for several months and set off a scramble among local Democrats for a rare open seat.

The heavily Democratic, majority black district will almost certainly stay in Democratic hands.

As a civil rights lawyer in the 1960s, Hastings fought against segregation in South Florida and made headlines in 1970 with an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate at the age of 29, the first black Floridian to seek a Senate seat.

He became a judge in Broward County in 1977 and two years later was named a U.S. District Court judge by President Jimmy Carter.

In 1981, Hastings was accused of soliciting a bribe to show leniency toward two convicted mobsters but was acquitted of all charges in 1983 after his alleged co-conspirator refused to testify.

But although he was acquitted, the House later voted to impeach Hastings in 1988, and the Senate convicted him and removed him from office in 1989, only the sixth federal judge ever tossed from the bench.

In 1992, he made a comeback by winning a House seat in Broward County in a runoff against one of his current colleagues, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, becoming part of a group of the first three black congressmen elected from Florida since Reconstruction. He won re-election 14 times, often by 3-to-1 margins.

In January 2019, he announced he had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but he continued to serve in Congress and ran for re-election in 2020.

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Republican Julia Letlow wins race for Louisiana U.S. House District 5; District 2 race heads to runoff

2 New Orleans Democratic state senators, Troy Carter and Karen Carter-Peterson, will meet in runoff

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com

NEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Republican Julia Letlow has won a special election for Louisiana’s 5th District U.S. House seat less than three months after her husband, Luke, died of COVID-19 complications before he could be sworn into the post.

In another special election Saturday in the 2nd District, Democratic state senators Troy Carter and Karen Carter-Peterson advanced to an April 24 runoff in a contest to replace Cedric Richmond, who resigned to take a job as the White House public engagement director in the Biden administration.

U.S. Rep.-Elect Julia Letlow, R-Louisiana

In the 5th District race, Letlow, 40, a former external affairs official at the University of Louisiana-Monroe, took 65% of the vote, besting 11 other candidates in the all-party race.

Coming in second place at 27% was the lone Democrat in the contest, Candy Christophe, a businesswoman and social worker from Alexandria.

Letlow’s husband, Luke, won the seat in November but died December 29 from COVID complications, days before he was scheduled to be sworn into Congress.

She will be just the third woman to represent a Louisiana district in the House, ending a 30-year drought of female representation.

The 5th District includes parts of 24 parishes in the state’s northeast corner and along the Mississippi border.

In the 2nd District — which includes most of New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge, along with the River Parishes between — Carter and Carter-Peterson led a field of 15 candidates, with Carter finishing first with 36% and Carter-Peterson with 23%.

However, the third-place finisher,Democrat Gary Chambers, a community activist from Baton Rouge, was just 1,500 votes behind Carter-Peterson.

Carter had support from much of the Democratic establishment and major unions, while Carter-Peterson drew support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus and from liberal grassroots group such as Democracy for America and Our Revolution, a group spun out of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

But Chambers was competing for those same voters and came in ahead of Carter-Peterson in Orleans Parish, the largest in the district.

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