State Reps. Gary Carter Jr. & Rodney Lyons Sr. Qualify for Senate District 7 Seat

Photos Courtesy of Danae Columbus

On the first day of qualifying to fill the State Senate District 7 vacancy following the election of Troy Carter to Congress, two Westbank legislators – State Rep. Gary Carter, Jr. (HD102) and State Rep. Rodney Lyons Sr. (HD 87) – completed the required paperwork to enter the race. The primary will take place Saturday, June 12, two days after the 2021 legislative session ends.  A runoff – if necessary – will be held July 10.

The nephew of Congressman-elect Carter, Gary Carter has been representing Algiers in the state House since 2015. An attorney in private practice, Carter graduated from Xavier University and Tulane School of Law. He is married to Dr. Desiree Morrell Carter, a physician and niece of Clerk of Criminal Court, Arthur Morrell. 

In 2015, Carter defeated five other candidates to win the state house seat he currently holds. He was re-elected outright in 2019. 

Carter is a member of the House Education Committee, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the House Select Leadership Committee and is vice chair of the Appropriations Committee. He is also a member of the Black Caucus and the Democratic Caucus.

Carter 2021 legislative agenda includes two bills that will increase environmental fees (HB 669 and HB 670) and two others that will dedicate dollars from the American Rescue Plan for faith-based communities and home ownership (HB 673 and HB 674). SB 95, which Carter co-authored, clarifies authority of NOLA-PS’s Superintendent over under-performing charter schools.    

In his 2020 annual campaign finance filing, Carter showed $10,639 cash on hand. State law prohibits Carter and other legislators from raising money during the legislative session. It has been reported that a new public action committee is being created that would support Carter. PACs are forbidden by law from directly coordinating with the candidate they are supporting. Carter would be able to make a personal loan to support his campaign. 

Carter’s 2020 donors include the National Wildlife Federation, PHARMA, Dentaquest PAC, HCA Louisiana Good Government Fund, Independent RX, Kids Dental Zone, Atmos Energy, Centurylink, Caremark RX, Pfizer and Louisiana First PAC. 

“I’m excited about the opportunity to run for the State Senate,” Carter said today immediately after qualifying. Carter also said he received a call last night from former State Senator David Heitmeier who indicated he would not be entering the race. Heitmeier had been considered a possible contender.

“With the recent election of Troy Carter to Congress, the Carter name is very well known in District 7. Even without a big war chest, that name recognition could give Gary an edge in the race,” said one consultant. Congressman-elect Troy Carter has endorsed his nephew.

Lyons, a Democrat, is counting on his strong support in Jefferson Parish to propel him forward. Also first elected in 2015, he represents Marrero and Harvey. He was re-elected in 2019 with 79% of the votes cast. In 2015 he defeated incumbent State Rep. Ebony Woodruff. 

Lyons is a member of the Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs Committee, the House and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Appropriations Committee and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. 

Lyons has $25,205.58 cash on hand, more than twice the funds of Carter.  His previous donors include LASFAA PAC, Inc., Transdev, Union Pacific Railroad, Louisiana Restaurant Association, Dow Chemical and Populus Financial Group. 

Endorsements by former State Senate President John Alario and prominent Jefferson Parish elected officials would go a long way in balancing Carter’s endorsement by his uncle and Orleans Parish heavy-weights who are expected to weigh in after qualifying.  

Lyons is co-sponsoring HB 32 – which has already been approved by the House – that would increase the number of credits for inmates ready for parole who have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree while incarcerated. He also co-authored HB 12 that established an individual income tax check-off that would be dedicated to STAR, Sexual Trauma, Awareness and Response (STAR) organization.  

Lyons is also co-sponsoring HB 84 would allow certain individuals under indictment or order of imprisonment or on probation or parole to serve on a jury. HB 304 would require the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to coordinate data relative to the early childhood care and education network and to submit an annual report to the Legislature. 

Gary Carter Jr. and other state representatives also co-authored HB 84, HB 12 and HB 32.

“Why you lead and the way you lead are important,” said Lyons.  “They define YOU, you’re your leadership and ultimately your contribution. I continue to lead with integrity and dedication while being effective. It’s always about you, the people.” 

Covering a section of Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes, State Senate District 7 is 55% Black, 30% White and 10% Hispanic. Democrats make up 57.1% of the district’s 65,977 voters.  In 2019 Troy Carter ran unopposed for re-election in State Senate District 7. He defeated former State Rep. Jeff Arnold and two other contenders for the seat in 2015.

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