A field of a dozen candidates began circling Jefferson in the primary. He finished first, but with only 30 percent of the vote, inspiring conjecture that his performance amounted to repudiation of an incumbent and that he would surely lose the runoff against state Rep. Karen Carter, D-New Orleans.
Instead, Jefferson, 59, scored a dramatic upset by racking up huge pluralities in African African-dominated precincts in Orleans, and winning outright in Jefferson Parish, where Sheriff Harry Lee had spent his campaign.
The final margin for Jefferson in Jefferson Parish was 71% to 39% – a margin that can be attributed to Sheriff Lee’s furious political assault in the closing days of the campaign. Lee not only endorsed to Jefferson, but in the final days, urged Jefferson Parish residents to stay home and not vote. The final tally shows that while 28% of registered voters cast ballots in the primary, only 15% voted Saturday.
Jefferson’s victory was even more confounding because the Second Congressional District race was missing all the advantages that usually come
with incumbency. Carter had the edge in funding raising, including from business interests that had backed Jefferson in the past. Most of the high-profile endorsements – including those by two former Louisiana senators – went to her, as well.
Jefferson seemed to have secured his upset victory not in public debates or
increasingly vicious ad campaigns but in grassroots campaign efforts that carried him to dozens of African-American churches, and, although he isn’t a
drinker, to many a Second District bar.
The New York Times thinks Dems will keep Jefferson at arm’s length:
It is unlikely that the House Democratic leadership will look more kindly on Jefferson, despite his re-election; Republicans, seeking to offset some of the damage their own party incurred in the 2006 elections because of a series of ethics controversies, are likely to hammer the Democrats over Jefferson’s re-election. But the House may be constrained in investigating Jefferson’s behavior because of the potential for interfering with the probe being conducted by federal prosecutors.
Flashback: The culture of corruption continues