Louisiana’s second congressional district is extremely gerrymandered, packing as many African-Americans in southern Louisiana as possible– most of New Orleans, the north side of Baton Rouge and rural black parishes in between. It guarantees a black district– the population is over 60 black and just 28% white– but also guarantees that LA-01, LA-06 and to a lesser degree LA-03 and LA-05 will elect Republicans. LA-02 has a PVI of D+25. Obama won 75 and 76% when he ran and Hillary did nearly as well in 2016.
Cedric Richmond was just reelected on a jungle ballot with 6 candidates. The runner up, a Republican had 15.0% of the vote. Richmond, a centrist New Dem, took 63.6% of the vote. In 2018, 2016 and 2014 the Republicans hadn’t bothered to even run candidates against him. Richmond is going to work for the Biden administration, leaving his seat open. This is the perfect district for a full-on progressive to run and luckily, that’s what’s happening. Although several establishment Democrats are running, including state Senator Karen Carter Peterson (New Orleans) and state Senator Troy Carter (New Orleans), Berniecrat Gary Chambers, Jr.– just endorsed this week by Blue America– is also in the race, bursting with charisma, likability and empathy. There are likely to be more candidates jumping in before Friday (the deadline). The election is March 20 and if no one wins outright (50% +1), there will be a runoff on April 24.
Gary is a pretty unique candidate– someone who can force Congress to change the way they do business, the way AOC did in 2018 and the way Cori Bush has this year. LA-02 will be better off with Gary… and so will America. I asked Gary to introduce himself with a few words (below) and I want to ask you to take a look at his announcement video up top and to read what he has to say and then to consider contributing to his campaign by clicking on the 2021 Blue America congressional thermometer above. Also consider checking out his campaign website and following him on Twitter– @GaryChambersJr. His campaign is all about shifting the climate of Congress to help working families.
If You Vote The Way You’ve Always Voted, You Get What You’ve Always Got And We’ll End Up Where We’ve Always Been…
-Gary Chambers Jr.
Candidate for Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District
When Cedric Richmond was chosen by President-elect Biden to be a senior adviser to his administration and the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, the vacancy of his Congressional seat in Louisiana’s 2nd District presented the citizens of the district a unique opportunity to really consider how leadership that succeeds Rep. Richmond could be expounded on and to some extent, reimagined.
A local and national call for our Congressional campaign began growing rapidly, leaving me with no other resolve other than to answer the will of the people. As a public servant and unapologetic advocate for the disenfranchised members of my hometown of Baton Rouge the decision to pursue this candidacy was anchored in my life motto of “Doing Good and Seeking Justice.” Though a single moment from my years of advocacy going viral put me on the national radar, it was nowhere near the genesis of my civic engagement.
Our campaign is centered around advancing three basic quality of life metrics for the citizens of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional district: economic justice, environmental justice and criminal justice.
We want to represent our district because our state is in dire need of jobs that pay a living wage and an economy that creates a more equitable playing field. Louisiana is ranked 49th in opportunity for its citizens.
We want to represent our district to lobby on behalf of the Green New Deal and end our state’s dependency on the oil and gas industry, which is not only seeing jobs leave our community but also compromising the quality of our environment and the health and well-being of its workforce.
We want to represent our district to boldly challenge the punitive nature of a criminal justice system that places Louisiana at the top of the nation’s incarceration rate, disproportionately locking away Black and Brown people. For far too long we have been a toxic mixture of crime and poverty, and our leaders have often failed to rationalize how one dilemma feeds the other.
I am a native of north Baton Rouge, born in 1985 in an all-Black community. My community never saw a homicide in my formative years, but as I grew as a teenager and young adult I watched resources being stripped away from my neighborhood, and the criminality and hopelessness that came as a result of it.
But more than coming from a place of despair, I come from a place of proud, hard-working people who can move mountains with just the bare minimum. That culture instilled a fight in me that challenged the status quo and caused me to push relentlessly on behalf of the people that those on the more resourced end of East Baton Rouge Parish forgot about or ignored.
I can tell you that my advocacy along with a coalition of others fought to keep Baton Rouge Zoo in north Baton Rouge, and won, keeping an economic driver in an area in desperate need.
I can tell you that my advocacy along with a consortium of civically-engaged activists fought to change police policies in the aftermath of the 2016 killing of Alton Sterling and to lobby for a more equality-minded police chief to take the reigns of the city’s police department, and won.
We fought for healthcare access for north Baton Rouge and won.
I can tell you that I and several members of my now-campaign team fought for an increase in Black and other minority-owned businesses to receive city-parish contracts, and won.
I can assure you that I will champion Medicare For All as a member of Congress because I live in a community that has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and was losing access to hospitals long before we ever had to deal with COVID-19.
The tenor of our campaign is in direct alignment with the mission of Blue America because we are people-powered. We are the ones who have been told that our approach was “too radical.” We are the ones who have been told that we should “wait our turn.” And we are also the ones who have watched our communities buckle under the weight of systemic inequities that could be rectified if our leadership was bold enough to do something about it.
We are the ones willing to take a level of boldness to Congress, because we are the ones who have been standing in truth, in bravery and in consistency long before we ever dreamed of going on this campaign run.
We believe our time is now. We believe that change is coming. And we are committed to doing the work necessary to bring progress to our district, as progress has been long overdue.