Gary Carter Jr. Victorious in State Senate Race

Photo credit: Danae Columbus

State Representative Gary Carter Jr. easily overcame three other contenders to win the State Senate District 7 seat recently vacated by his uncle Congressman Troy Carter. A 46-year-old civil attorney, Carter’s victory will ensure that the Carter family’s history of service to West Bank residents will continue.

“I want to thank the people of Senate District 7. I want to thank my family, my wife, my friends. I could not have run this race victoriously without your support. My campaign team was absolutely amazing and gave their all until the last hour.  I am so thankful for their hard work and dedication,” said Carter last night.

“To all of the volunteers and donors, thank you for investing your time and resources to make this win possible. Thank you to all of the ministers, supporters and so many elected officials who gave us their support.  Finally, I would like to thank God for making all things possible. I am so honored and grateful to represent the people of District 7.”

Voter turnout was very light with approximately 10% of the district’s registered voters participating in Saturday’s election. Carter received 4,137 votes (60.2%). Patricia McCarty, a Republican first-time candidate from Belle Chasse, ran second with 1,181 (17.2%). Democrat Joanna Cappeillo-Leopold, wife of former State Rep. Chris Leopold, ran third with 948 (13.8%) and current State Rep. Mack Cormier came in last with just 601 votes (8.8%).

For such a quickly-called race, Carter did an excellent job of fundraising with approximately $80,000 cash on hand going into the final days. He garnered almost all the major endorsements and was considered the favorite in the race from the state. Cappiello-Leopold raised more than $20,000. Cormier worked with a budget of $13,000 and newcomer McCarty raised on $3,500. Her second place finish showed that sometimes money isn’t the most important factor in an election.

State Senate District 7 is majority Black and made up of the West Bank portion of Orleans Parish (48% of the voters) as well as a part of Jefferson Parish (40%) and Plaquemines Parish(12%). It would have been difficult for a candidate who was not supported by Orleans Parish voters to win.

Cappeillo-Leopold was counting on his husband’s name recognition from his years at the Legislature before his defeat by Cormier. A Democrat whose father and brother both served as parish president, Cormier should have run stronger against the two non-elected females. McCarty’s second place finish is testament to her solid support from Republican voters in the district.

A native of Algiers, Carter was first elected to the Louisiana Legislature District 102 in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019. He served as vice chair of the Appropriations Committee and was also a member of the Education Committee, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, the House Select Leadership Committee, the Democratic Caucus, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus and the Orleans delegation.

His major legislation during the 2021 session includes HB 680, the Louisiana Youth Jobs Tax Credit Program and HB 514 which levied a state sales tax on the sale of raw or crude marijuana recommended for therapeutic use. Both are awaiting Governor John Bel Edwards’ signature as are HB 707 relative to employment discrimination based on criminal history and HB 92 relative to compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment. Carter also co-sponsored HB 670 which authorized an increase in fees collected by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Carter graduated from Archbishop Shaw High School, Xavier University and Tulane Law School. Carter is married to Dr. Desiree Morrell Carter and has two daughters.

Though Governor Edwards has not yet called an election to fill Carter’s vacancy, the election will probably coincide with the fall municipal contests on October 9. Already one prominent Algiers businesswoman has expressed an interest in the state representative seat.

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