Louisiana Democrat sworn into Congress, replacing Biden aide

WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Troy Carter of Louisiana was sworn into the House on Tuesday, adding some breathing room to the party’s tight majority.

Carter, 57, represents a majority-Black district centered in New Orleans that extends up the Mississippi River into Baton Rouge. The seat opened after Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond left the position to work as a special adviser to President Joe Biden.

Carter had served in a variety of local and state political positions over the course of three decades before winning a runoff election to succeed Richmond. He is the only Democratic member of the Louisiana congressional delegation.

Carter said in his inaugural speech on the House floor that his district is known for Mardi Gras, jazz, great food and its vibrant manufacturing base, but he said it also has a lot of needs, including economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, infrastructure investment, environmental justice and education.

“I commit to working with everyone in the Congress and the White House to address those needs and to stand strong when those needs are not being addressed,” Carter said.

Carter’s swearing-in gives Democrats a 219-212 edge in the House, with four vacancies. Of those vacancies, three seats had been held by Democrats and one by a Republican. No party turnover is expected when special elections are held to fill those vacancies.

The race to succeed Richmond was a crowded one. Carter and Karen Carter Peterson, both serving as state senators, emerged as the top vote-getters among 15 candidates in the March primary.

Carter had the backing of Richmond and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. Peterson was supported by voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

As is the norm for swearing-in ceremonies, lawmakers put aside their party and political differences. Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican in the House, welcomed Carter, saying that “he’s committed his life to public service.”

“We look forward to continuing that great tradition as Republicans and Democrats working together for the best interests of our great state of Louisiana as well as for the nation,” said Scalise, who also represents Louisiana.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, was also at the Capitol and spoke during a ceremonial event just outside the House floor. He called Carter “pretty strong-willed,” prompting laughter from Carter’s family and friends, before he added, “but always pleasant to deal with.”