(The Center Square) – Ten candidates signed up to run for one of Louisiana’s two open seats in Congress on the first day of qualifying Wednesday.
A pair of New Orleans Democratic state senators were the most high-profile candidates to enter the race for the 2nd Congressional District. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who chaired her party for eight years before stepping down from party leadership last year, is running. So is Sen. Troy Carter, first elected to the Legislature in 2015.
Democrat Gary Chambers is a Baton Rouge-based activist who ran unsuccessfully for the state senate in 2019. Public school principal Mindy McConnel of New Orleans is running for the District 2 seat as a Libertarian. Jenette M. Porter, a New Orleans Democrat, also qualified.
District 2, which includes New Orleans and extends into Baton Rouge, came open when Democrat Cedric Richmond left Congress to join President Joe Biden’s administration.
Luke Letlow, who was outgoing Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham’s chief of staff, was elected to represent Louisiana’s District 5 in December but died following a COVID-19 diagnosis days before taking office. Letlow’s widow Julia Letlow has said she plans to run for the seat but did not qualify Wednesday.
Sandra Christophe, a Democrat who in November came within a few hundred votes of making the December runoff against Letlow, has signed up to run again. Louisiana does not hold party primaries. Instead, every candidate runs on the same ballot in the first round, and if no one gets more than half of the votes, the top two advance to a runoff.
The other candidates to qualify for the 5th District race are all Republicans: Chad Conerly of Kentwood, Allen Guillory of Lawtell, Horace Melton III of Shreveport, and Sancha Smith of Opelousas. Republican state Rep. Lance Harris, who lost in the runoff to Letlow, did not qualify Wednesday and had not announced if he would seek the office again as of Wednesday afternoon.
The largely rural 5th District includes much of northeast and central Louisiana.
Qualifying continues Thursday and Friday. Primary elections will be held March 20 with runoffs if necessary April 24.