N'awlins On Ice


By all appearences, voters in Louisiana's 2nd Congressional district, in New Orleans and environs, have re-elected bribe-taking Congressman Bill Jefferson over State Rep. Karen Carter.

Jefferson beat back concerns over hiding $90,000 in kickbacks in his freezer and dragooning National Guard to clear incriminating documents out of his House during the Hurricane Katrina by … hey, look after there! His opponent supports gay marriage and cloning!

More seriously, Jefferson won thanks to good old-fashioned political gamesmanship. A seat in the 2nd district, one of the most Democratic in the nation, doesn't come open often. Local politicos knew that if they supported the relatively young Carter, she could hold the seat for decades; but if they supported Jefferson, they could run for the seat themselves when he's inevitably indicted. Witness State Sen. Derrick Shepherd, who came in 3rd in the primary, endorsing Jefferson; witness Jefferson County Parish Sheriff Harry Lee viciously attacking Carter a few days ago, for her saying (correctly) that the parish turned away people escaping the city after Hurricane Katrina.

So Jefferson's basically a former-congressman-in-waiting; his election doesn't mean much in the long run. Oh, except for the contractors and business who've been trying to woo grants and investment down to New Orleans. If you crack open your window and turn down the TV, you can hear them groaning. (Again.)

UPDATE: I added a fresh link to a news story after the result became official. Also, I notice some snickering on Republican sites about how this can be used against the Democrats—where's your "culture of corruption" now, losers! Probably won't work, though. Lousiana has been a perch for corrupt politicians going on seven decades, starting with Huey Long and continuing with Edwin "The Crook" Edwards. Americans more or less expect Louisians to elect criminals. There'll be some fireworks as Congressional Democrats continue to marginalize him, and then he'll go the way of Jim Traficant and Bob Ney.