AOC-backed candidate loses: Is Louisiana's special runoff election a wake-up call for the woke left?

Democratic National Convention via AP

Louisiana held a special runoff election Saturday. It proved to be a match-up between traditional Democrats and the new woke left. The more moderate of the two Democrat candidates won the Congressional seat. The hardest hit is AOC, Emily’s List, and Stacey Abrams.


A special election was called to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Cedric Richmond in the state’s 2nd Congressional District. Richmond joined the Biden administration as a senior advisor, the White House’s director of public engagement. The district spans from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. It is solidly Democrat and there was never any hope of a Republican pick-up for that seat. Two Louisiana state senators faced off after winning the most votes in a March 20 special election – Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson. Neither earned at least 50% of the vote in March.

Cedric Richmond stepped in and played an important role by endorsing Troy Carter. Both candidates had run for the seat in past elections. Carter aligned himself with the more moderate wing of the Democrat Party, securing the endorsement of House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, besides Richmond’s endorsement. Karen Carter Peterson took another path and made a hard left turn. Her endorsements included those of AOC, Stacey Abrams, and Emily’s List. Less than two hours after the polls closed, Peterson conceded. Troy Carter won with 55.2% of the vote. Peterson received 44.8%, with Carter getting 9,216 more votes than Peterson. It was a low turnout election, as special election runoffs often turn out to be.


The two candidates worked well together in the Louisiana State Senate. They support many of the same policy initiatives. Both support increasing the minimum wage and law enforcement reform, for example. The election result doesn’t change the makeup of the House. Democrats still hold a very slim majority. The election can be looked at as a canary in the coal mine campaign. It shows that while the far left’s agenda is popular in the Washington, D.C. bubble, regular America is not ready for our Socialist or Marxist overlords. Karen Carter Peterson chose the wrong fork in the road.

Carter Peterson heads up Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD). She is the former chairperson of the Louisiana Democratic Party. While serving in that capacity in 2016, she attacked Bernie Sanders while he campaigned against Hillary Clinton. Her turn to Green New Deal progressiveness was clearly a political calculation, albeit a bad one. She was endorsed by the Sierra Club. Given her past associations with energy companies and accepting campaign donations from them in past races, going for the Sierra Club’s endorsement was an interesting twist.

“Half measures won’t cut it when it comes to confronting the environmental injustices making our families sick in #LA02 (Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District), especially those in Cancer Alley,” she wrote on Twitter. “It’s fundamentally wrong that families have to choose between their health and putting food on the table.

“That’s why I’m proud to have the support of [the] Sierra Club as we fight to ensure clean air and water for every family, hold polluters accountable, and build a clean energy economy that puts our communities first.”


With the support of Richmond in the White House and Clyburn in the House, Carter will have more sway than typical freshmen lawmakers. He uses that thought as a selling point for himself. Carter ran as a problem-solver while Peterson chose to go with the progressive left.

Carter and Peterson have agreed on most issues during their five years together in the state Senate, but Peterson tacked left during the runoff and won endorsements from Gary Chambers Jr., the Baton Rouge social justice advocate, and from such national progressive icons as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Georgia’s Stacey Abrams.

EMILY’s List, which aims to elect pro-abortion rights female Democrats, spent more than $1.8 million during the campaign supporting Peterson and maligning Carter. That was more money than either he or Peterson spent during the entire campaign.

Carter, true to his legislative record, ran as a problem-solving Democrat who is willing to work with independents and Republicans.

Any defeat of EMILY’s List is a good one. Louisiana has a Democrat governor but he is pro-life. Even with EMILY’s List’s endorsement, Peterson failed to properly read the room. I’m happy for them to burn through $1.8 million on a losing candidate.


James Carville noted that wokeness did “very, very poorly.”

James Carville, the New Orleans-based political strategist, believes the outcome has national implications, noting that Peterson had the advantage of her side spending more money and a low turnout special election (16.6%) that typically favors candidates who seek to excite their party’s most fervent supporters.

“Voters voted against wokeness,” said Carville. “They just did. Woke did very, very poorly.”

Democrats in other conservative-leaning states should pay attention during the mid-term election cycle. American voters are tired of being bludgeoned with non-stop woke idealogy. Look at what is happening with Joe Biden. He ran as a moderate (I know )and quickly went off the deep end for the progressive left once he was inaugurated. His poll numbers are taking a hit. He ranks less favorably than his predecessors at this time in their presidencies, except for Trump.

As of Wednesday, 53.4% of Americans approve of Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregation of leading pollsters. Meanwhile, 40.1% of Americans disapprove of the job he’s doing in the White House.

After his first three months, Biden approval rating is higher than Donald Trump’s (41.9%) and Bill Clinton’s (52.9%) approvals were at the same point in their presidencies. However, it’s lower than the approval ratings of Barack Obama (60.2%), George W. Bush (56.2%), and Ronald Reagan (67.6%) at the 92-day mark.


Perhaps both coasts and some major urban areas are ready to throw in with Marxists and Socialists but fortunately for the rest of us, most Americans aren’t so willing to do so. Common sense problem-solvers win over burn-it-all-down radical progressives when given a choice.

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