Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jefferson's Ever Shrinking Re-election Chances

Check out Christopher Tidmore's recent news analysis of the Congressman Bill Jefferson's job prospects. Lets hope congressman Jefferson job prospects become even more limited.


NEW ORLEANS (NNPA) -- When well-financed opposition comes from both the left and the right, usually an incumbent Congressman should begin sending out resumes to DC-based lobbying firms. Of course, Bill Jefferson's job prospects might be somewhat limited. Few advocacy retainers come in the form of frozen cash.

Nevertheless, local political groups smell the blood in the ice, err, water, and have fielded candidates to confront the Second District Congressman's re-election bid. The potential match-ups are so strong, that a real possibility exists that Jefferson might not make the runoff.

Part of the Congressman's problem emerges from the obvious Nigeria scandal and its offshoots, i.e. commandeering a military Humvee after Katrina to retrieve ''files'' from his home. The Congressman's main hope for surviving the scandal has rested in the promise that his seniority could be leveraged to provide necessary financial assistance to a district still reeling from Katrina. Yet, time in Congress, as any student of Capitol Hill dynamics will attest, only counts as far as it provides placement on key committees that control the money - or in Jefferson's case, the tax credits that other Congressmen need and will use their clout to obtain.

The decision by the Democratic caucus to remove Jefferson from Ways and Means removed the major justification for his re-election. Even without an indictment, his opponents are expected to argue, Jefferson's usefulness to the citizens of the Second District has come to an end. It is a stand that Derrick Shepherd has already begun to take.

The State Senator from District 3 opened his congressional race on Monday, Aug. 7th, with the words that his money would not come out of a freezer and other comments underlining how the controversy has finished Jefferson. Shepherd said he would stick to the issues, and then added that the major issue was that Bill Jefferson now lacked the influence in the U.S. House of Representatives to get anything done.

However, the real danger that the State Senator poses to the Congressman comes not from his words, but from the way that the Second Congressional District has evolved over the years-growing the influence of African-Americans in Shepherds's native Jefferson Parish.

To maintain its Black Majority, Bill Jefferson's seat has been redrawn twice to include other parts of the metro area, especially African-American sections of East and West Jefferson. Despite the perception that it is a New Orleans district, the suburban voters have grown in power in the Second. Katrina only accelerated a trend already underway.

Prior to the storms, 28 prcent of the population of the total population of Jefferson Parish was African-American, with its sizable concentrations in west bank communities of Marrero and Gretna and east back neighborhoods like South Kenner. These growing Black neighborhoods sit within the 2nd District. In the wake of Katrina, these areas experienced neither overly disruptive flooding nor considerable permanent population dislocation. With much of the Orleans areas of the district depopulated, recent demographic studies point to almost half of the seat's local voters living in the suburbs with little emotional connection to a New Orleans' oriented candidate like the incumbent. More >>>


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