April 13, 2021

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Polls close in Louisiana special congressional elections – NBC News

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WASHINGTON — Polls have closed in Louisiana where voters are filling two vacant House seats Saturday in the first special congressional election of the year.

Both congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered and Democrats are expected to easily hold on to one seat, though a dozen candidates are competing for the privilege. Republicans are nearly certainly hold on to the other.

In Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, which covers much of the state’s rural northeast, Republican Julia Letlow is running to replace her late husband, Luke, who was first elected to the seat in November, but died before assuming office of complications from Covid-19 in December.

Letlow, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is favored to win the overwhelmingly Republican district, but if she doesn’t secure 50 percent of the vote Saturday, she will have to compete again in a runoff election on April 24.

Trump, through his PAC, released a statement Saturday afternoon urging voters to turn out for Letlow, saying “she will never disappoint” and “is outstanding and so necessary to help save our Second Amendment, at the Border, and for our Military and Vets.”

The other race, in Louisiana’s majority Black 2nd Congressional District which stretches from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, is expected to head to a runoff. The contest could offer clues about the mood inside the Democratic Party, and especially among Black Democrats a few months into President Joe Biden’s term.

Fifteen candidates are running to replace former Rep. Cedric Richmond, a Democrat who left Congress in January to take a senior role in Biden’s White House, so none are expected to cross the 50 percent threshold needed in the first round to avoid next month’s runoff.

Richmond and other Democratic Party power brokers are backing moderate state Sen. Troy Carter, but he’s facing stiff competition from state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who is running as a progressive.

Carter Peterson, who was until last year chairwoman of the Louisiana Democratic Party, has been endorsed by the women’s group Emily’s List, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Our Revolution, which spun off of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Carter and Carter Peterson — who are not related — had both raised about half a million dollars for the race as of the end of February, according to campaign finance reports, while activist Gary Chambers has raised over $300,000, with the rest of the field far behind.

The district is more than two-thirds Black and heavily Democratic, with Richmond winning re-election last year by nearly 50 percentage points over his closest Republican rival.

The next special congressional election is currently scheduled to take place on June 1 in a safe Democratic district in New Mexico, where candidates are vying to replace former Rep. Debra Haaland, who on Monday was confirmed as interior secretary.

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