In September, when state Rep. Karen Carter Peterson announced she wouldn't run for New Orleans mayor, the race lost a potential frontrunner. Now she's the frontrunner for the seat of departing state senator Cheryl Gray Evans. When qualifying closed last Wednesday (Dec. 30, 2009) for the District 5 Senate seat, Peterson drew one opponent: former Public Service Commissioner Irma Muse Dixon. The district covers a broad and diverse swath of New Orleans from Uptown to Central City and the CBD.
Peterson was ready for all comers, amassing a bipartisan slate of endorsements. They include New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Clerk of Criminal Court Arthur Morrell, Senate President Joel Chaisson, Senate President Pro Tem Sharon Weston Broome and House Speaker Jim Tucker. Also on the Peterson bandwagon: state Sens. Ann Duplessis, Troy Hebert, Lydia Jackson and J.P. Morrell, state Reps. Neil Abramson, Jeff Arnold, Austin Badon, Jared Brossett, Patrick Connick, Cameron Henry, Walker Hines, Girod Jackson, Walt Leger and Charmaine Marchand Stiaes, and former state Sen. Diana Bajoie, the first African-American female to serve in the Louisiana Senate. Also supporting Peterson are Constable Lambert Boissiere Jr. and his son, Public Service Commissioner Lambert Boissiere III, the latter of whom defeated Dixon in 2004.
Dixon says she was encouraged by many citizens and ministers in the district to make the race because Peterson's current position as House speaker pro tem may fall to someone outside New Orleans if she moves to the Senate.
Evans, who announced her resignation in mid-December, will officially vacate her seat on Feb. 5 (one day before the election) and move to Connecticut to join her husband, Patrick Evans, a former New Orleans newscaster and public relations executive now working with the U.S. Navy. — Kevin Allman