Jefferson loses seat in Louisiana

Beleaguered Louisiana lawmaker William Jefferson has lost his bid to remain in office. The veteran congressman, caught up in a 2007 indictment charging him with taking $500,000 in bribes, was ousted Saturday from his New Orleans district in elections that

Beleaguered Louisiana lawmaker William Jefferson has lost his bid to remain in office.

The veteran congressman, caught up in a 2007 indictment charging him with taking $500,000 in bribes, was ousted Saturday from his New Orleans district in elections that had been delayed by Hurricane Gustav.

Jefferson, a Democrat, lost to Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao who won 50 percent of the vote in the heavily Black and Democratic 2nd Congressional District race.

Cao will become the first Vietnamese to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When he took office in 1991, Jefferson, 61, became Louisiana’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, money laundering and misuing his congressional office.

According to an Associated Press report, Jefferson conceded defeat in a speech that was gracious but stopped short of concession.

He blamed low voter turnout, saying voters might have thought he was a shoo-in after his victory in the Nov. 4 primary. “I think people just ran out of gas a bit,” Jefferson was quoted as saying. “People flat didn’t come in large numbers (Saturday).”

Jefferson’s loss is a coup for Louisiana’s Republicans, whose national committee supported Cao’s candidacy. In the process, Republicans argued that Jefferson’s scandal had cost him the election.

But the Party’s fortune reportedly had already taken a turn this year for the worse when Democrats gained control of Congress.

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspapers

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