The William Jefferson Chronicles

Jefferson can no longer count on longtime ally
Local Democrats go with city councilman
Saturday, July 26, 2008
By Frank Donze

If there's one thing that U.S. Rep. William Jefferson has been able to count on during his nearly 20 years in Washington, it's the backing of the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee.

But as the indicted congressman's legal woes mount, even that's gone.

This week, committee members handed their endorsement in this fall's congressional race to City Councilman James Carter.

Jefferson has been able to stack the panel with supporters who delivered him the local party's stamp of approval in each of his nine congressional wins dating back to 1990.

But political handicappers speculated that Jefferson's run was in jeopardy after several of his loyalists failed to win re-election to the committee last fall. In February, his top aide, Stephanie Butler, did not seek another term as committee chairwoman, a position she had held for 16 years.

The committee's endorsement brings both symbolic and tangible benefits to Carter, an Algiers resident who was elected to the council in 2006.

In addition to running as the official choice of the local Democratic Party, Carter will get a helping hand from politically active committee members and a spot on their ballot that is mailed to voters.

On Thursday night, a majority of the committee's 70 members met to consider the seven New Orleans Democrats who qualified for the Sept. 6 primary.

Carter led the first round of voting with 20 votes, followed by former City Councilman Troy Carter with 11; Jefferson, 9; and state Rep. Cedric Richmond, 5. School Board member Jimmy Fahrenholtz and Kenya Smith, a former aide to Mayor Ray Nagin, each got one vote. Former television news anchor Helena Moreno got none.

Because no one received more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round matching the two top finishers was held. James Carter received 24 votes to Troy Carter's 19. The two Carters are not related.

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