LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — Troy Carter, who polished his political pedigree on the New Orleans City Council and in both chambers of the Legislature, won a bruising battle Saturday to become the state’s only Democrat in Congress.
Carter, a New Orleanian who is serving in the Louisiana Senate, earned a promotion to Congress by beating fellow New Orleans Democratic state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson in a special election 55% to 45%.
He struck a conciliatory tone after the victory following the fractious campaign.
“This was a hard fought race, and now it is time to come together,” Carter said. “I want to be clear. I welcome everyone to our tent because the election is over, and I represent everyone.”
He replaces former Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, who gave up his seat to become a senior adviser for President Joe Biden and backed his close friend Carter during the campaign.
With his election, Democrats pad their advantage in the House, with 219 to 212 Republicans. Four seats remain vacant.
Carter and Peterson reached Saturday’s runoff by finishing first and second, respectively, in last month’s primary election.
“I’m wishing Sen. Carter well as he represents Louisiana in Washington, and I will keep fighting every day for our communities, our people, and the change we need,” Peterson said afterward in a statement.
Carter, 57, a management consultant, said he redefined the role of a legislator “with humanistic” priorities like advocating for equal pay for women and a higher minimum wage while in the Louisiana House and Senate.
He touted Richmond’s endorsement as “having the ear of the guy who will have the ear of the president. It’s a tremendous benefit,” Carter said, and thanked Richmond again for his support Saturday night.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards congratulated Carter.
“Louisiana now, more than ever, needs bold advocates to fight for the many needs of our great state in Washington, D.C.,” Edwards said in a statement. “I am confident that Troy will dutifully fill this role along with the rest of our current delegation, and I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Peterson, who also has served in the state House and Senate and is the former chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, defined her record during the campaign as “20 years of bold and progressive leadership fighting for working class families.”
Since Carter and Peterson shared many positions in the state’s only blue speck on the Louisiana congressional map, the once cordial colleagues offered voters contrasting personalities, often through personal attacks in a bare-knuckle campaign brawl.
Carter portrayed himself as a congenial bridge-builder who can be more effective for his constituents through consensus, while Peterson described herself to USA Today Network as an unapologetic fighter who “would rather be respected than loved.”
New Orleans is the population hub for the 2nd Congressional District, but its boundaries travel up the Mississippi River parishes into a portion of northern Baton Rouge.