Troy Carter won an open House seat based in Louisiana, giving Democrats a bit more breathing room to pass legislation in what’s still a tight majority.
Carter held a steady lead over a fellow state senator, Karen Carter Peterson, in the congressional race. The two were matched against each other in the Saturday runoff after emerging in the top two spots in the March 20 primary. Carter will replace former Rep. Cedric Richmond, who resigned after 10 years in office to become a senior adviser to President Joe Biden.
The 2nd Congressional District contains nearly all of the city of New Orleans and stretches west and north to Baton Rouge. In 2020, Biden walloped President Donald Trump in the district, winning 75%-23% even as the incumbent Republican cruised to victory in Louisiana, nabbing its eight electoral votes.
Carter’s win will slightly expand the majority of House Democrats. Since unexpectedly losing 12 seats in 2020, the House Democrats have governed with one of the narrowest majorities in recent memory. It’s a problem compounded by the departure of two House Democrats, in addition to Richmond, taking Obama administration posts.
Once Carter is sworn in, there will be 219 Democrats, 212 Republicans, and four vacancies in the 435-member House.
And that Democratic House edge will expand over the next six weeks. Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Stivers will leave Congress on May 16 to become the president and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Stivers’s seat could remain vacant for most of the rest of 2021. Another Ohio special election to replace former Democratic Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, who left Congress to become the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration, is on Nov. 2.
In addition to the Fudge vacancy in the Democratic Party, former New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland left to become interior secretary, with a special election on June 1. The seat strongly favors the Democrats. Another strongly Democratic seat in Florida, left open by the death of Rep. Alcee Hastings, will eventually be filled by a special election, though GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t yet scheduled it.
The narrow margins have meant that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can only afford a couple of defectors on any given bill. That makes her more vulnerable to being squeezed by the progressive “Squad” in her caucus.