Andre Carson elected to Congress

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Fulfilling his grandmother’s wish, the voters of Indiana’s seventh congressional district sent her “seed,” Indianapolis City County Councilman Andre Carson, to congress to fulfill her unexpired term.   With 100% of the precincts reporting, Carson was elected with 54% of the vote to Republican Jon Elrod’s 43%. The race begins anew to serve in the 111th Congress to be seated next January.  In Indiana’s May Democratic Primary, Carson faces determined opposition in the form of three contenders: State Rep. Carolene Mays, publisher of the black paper of record, the Indianapolis Recorder, former state health commissioner Woody Myers, and State Rep.  David Orentlicher.   

Mays and Myers as African Americans will provide Carson,33, with some stiff competition for African American votes in this majority white congressional district leaving Orentlicher free to persue white voters by himself.   The Indianapolis Star, the paper of record, refused to endorse Congressman Elect Carson and gave their nod to Jon Elrod.   I suspect that they will again refuse to endorse him a will give the nod to Orentlicher instead. 

With his election, he becomes the second Muslim American elected to the United States Congress, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the surreptitious character assassination and guilt by association that has characterized this race.  Carson has had to defend himself from charges of being associated with Minister Louis Farrakhan, a friend of his grandmother’s who attended her funeral and voiced support for his candidacy.  

The newest member of the Congressional Black Caucus has much to prove and little time in which to prove it.   I wish him Godspeed.

Democrats choose Julia Carson’s grandson to succeed her

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Hat Tip: By Mary Beth Schneider, Indianapolis Star

Democrats have selected Andre Carson to run in a special election to fill the U.S. Congressional term of his grandmother, the late Julia Carson. Carson, a member of the City-County Council, garnered 223 of the 439 votes cast. He was among eight candidates seeking the nomination. Julia Carson, a legend in Indiana politics, died Dec. 15 after a battle with lung cancer, and her presence loomed over today’s caucus which began with a moment of silence in her memory.

Many of the precinct committee men and women leapt to their feet, cheering and clapping, when Carson’s victory was announced.

“We love you Andre!” one woman shouted out as he bounded to the stage.

“We did it!” he shouted. “Thank God, we did it!”

Now, he said, he will launch a “grass-roots effort” to win the seat his grandmother held.

“We need candidates in office who aren’t puppets for big business and corporate interests. We need to get our troops home from Iraq immediately. We need to make sure funding is available for every child to meet the requirements of ‘No Child Left Behind,’” he said to cheers.

And, he said, “we all have to come together. No matter who you were for, we come together and show Republicans that this is a Democratic seat.”

Andre Carson will face determined white opposition to retain this seat in the Democratic primary and  to be re-elected to this seat in the fall. The coalition between black and white democrats seems to be fracturing in Indianapolis and I will be keeping tabs on this seat.

Andre Carson files for Congress

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Hat Tip: By Brendan O’ Shaughnessy, Indianapolis Star

A day after being sworn in to the City-County Council, Andre Carson set out on a larger goal: succeeding his grandmother Julia Carson as a member of Congress.

Carson said he understands concerns about his experience, and that he does not think of his candidacy as a question of legacy. “My heart is in public service,” Carson said. “I want to carry on a tradition of public service and being a voice for the voiceless.” He said his focus would be on his opposition to the war in Iraq and on bringing home federal funds through community block grants. A former state excise officer who was assigned to an anti-terrorism unit for a time, Carson said it’s critical to secure grants for local public safety efforts.

Carson filed his paperwork Wednesday to be considered by a caucus of Democrats. That group will choose a nominee Jan. 12 for the special election that will determine who completes Julia Carson’s term. Republicans will hold their caucus Jan. 13. Party leaders hope to set a date for a special election today. Both parties have said they do not want the district to go without representation until the May primary, as Gov. Mitch Daniels suggested last week.

Marion County Treasurer Michael Rodman also filed to run in the Democratic caucus. Other expected Democratic candidates are state Reps. David Orentlicher, Gregory W. Porter and Carolene Mays of Indianapolis, former state party chairman Robin Winston and former state health commissioner Woody Myers.

Caucus set to choose Carson successor

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The Marion County Democratic Party has set a January 12th Caucus to choose a nominee in the special election to replace the late Congresswoman Julia Carson in accordance with state law.   It became public during the remarks of Congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick that Mrs. Carson wanted her grandson, Andre Carson, an Indianapolis City-County Councilman, to replace her in congress after her passing.    Both women expressed their support as did former Congressman Andy Jacobs, and State Rep. Vanessa Summers.  

A pending announcement of Andre Carson’s candidacy should be forthcoming early in the new year. The blog Advance Indiana is making hay of Andre’s former ties to minister Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam.   I don’t expect that to pose a problem that can’t be overcome.  Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, the first muslim elected to congress, was formerly a member and he firmly distanced himself from the organization and its divisive agenda. 

Lastly, news comes from Blue Indiana that State Rep.  David Orentlicher has filed for the Carson seat with the FEC.  Others are surely to follow once Andre Carson signals his intentions. Marion County Treasurer Michael Rodman, an African American, has signaled his intention to seek the seat but has not filed any paperwork.

Julia Carson laid to rest

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An honor guard member stands at attention by the flag-drapped casket of Rep. Julia Carson at the Indiana State House Rotunda Friday morning. (Matt Kryger / The Star)

Hat Tip: By Will Higgins, The Indianapolis Star

The 2,000 people who attended U.S. Rep. Julia Carson’s funeral Saturday got more than just spirited preaching. They got a look behind the curtain at the congresswoman’s legendary but little-understood influence. 

Carson, the first black and first woman to represent Indianapolis in Congress, died of lung cancer Dec. 15 at her Indianapolis home. She was 69. 

The four-hour service at Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis was followed by a procession to Crown Hill Cemetery, where a military presentation featuring a rifle salute preceded her burial. 

Gov. Mitch Daniels, Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar, former Sen. Birch Bayh and Mayor Bart Peterson were among about two dozen people who spoke during the service about the impact Carson had on their lives and on the lives of others. 

Peterson said that before he ran for mayor, he flew to Washington, D.C., for Carson‘s blessing. “I would not have been elected without her,” he said. “What may be less known is that I couldn’t have done this job without her guidance.” 

State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said it was Carson who urged him to run for public office. “I’d never thought of it,” Crawford said. “Julia saw in me something I hadn’t seen.” 

Marion Superior Court Judge David Shaheed’s story was the topper. He recalled several years ago telling Carson he was interested in public office. He didn’t know which office, but the idea of service appealed to him. Later, she invited him to her home, where some movers and shakers had gathered.

“She introduced me around the room as her candidate for judge,” Shaheed said. A judge he became and remains. 

In the week since Carson‘s death, stories of her personal warmth and charisma dominated the outpouring of remembrances. There were many more such stories at her funeral.

A voice for justice

Carson‘s was a festive funeral — a “home-going,” said Jeffrey A. Johnson, Eastern Star’s senior pastor. As Carson‘s casket was carried into the sanctuary, the mourners broke into sustained applause.

Several musical selections, a Scripture reading and prayer preceded remarks by dignitaries. Daniels recalled being touched that Carson came to his father’s funeral.

“All of our political arguments are so small,” Daniels said, “compared to what Julia knew — that we’re all one in Jesus Christ.”Lugar, R-Ind., said he was thankful for the friendship he had with Carson and spoke about how much of an inspiration she was for him and others.

“It didn’t matter where she was; she kept talking about justice,” he said. “She also talked about education and health care and justice, civil justice and racial justice. She not only talked about it, but she was by far the most remarkable political figure I have ever seen in attaining all of these things.

“It is important for each one of us to have the idealism of Julia Carson.” Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., touched on Carson’s humility.“I don’t think she ever said no to anybody who needed her,” he said. He also spoke about her courage and said she didn’t think about what was popular.

“She only knew what was right and what was wrong, and was always willing to stand up for what was right.”Carson “walked with kings but did not lose the common touch,” he said, paraphrasing the poet Rudyard Kipling.

“Good night, sweet Julia”

Each speaker was greeted warmly, several drawing standing ovations, including Peterson and former U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs.It was Jacobs who gave Carson her start in politics.

He recalled meeting her in 1965, shortly after he first won election. She was working for a labor union, United Auto Workers Local 550, and he asked her to join his staff.“She conferred with her mother,” according to the obituary in the church bulletin, “who told her that Mr. Jacobs was really a Congressman.”

His authenticity established, she took the job and had remained in politics ever since. On Friday, she became the first woman to lie in repose in the Statehouse.

Despite all the praise, Jacobs insisted there was much more to his “little sister.” Because of her modesty, Jacobs said, “the public hasn’t scratched the surface of her accomplishments. Over time, her legacy will grow.” He teared up toward the end of his remarks as he said, “Good night, sweet Julia. May choirs of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Several of Carson’s grandchildren spoke after Jacobs gave his remarks, including Andre Carson and her eldest grandson, Sam Carson IV.

About three hours into the funeral, Sam Carson, recalling how he used to drive his grandmother and act as her security detail, told the audience: “We went to a lot of funerals together, and I have to tell you, if we’d been at this one, we’d have been gone an hour ago.”

Endorsements for a grandson 

Peterson, who recently lost his bid for re-election as mayor, was rumored to be interested in Carson’s seat after Carson said last month she did not plan to seek re-election. On Wednesday, he announced he would not be a candidate.A half-dozen others are reportedly interested in the job, including Carson’s grandson Andre, who was elected to the City-County Council last month.

Andre Carson has not announced his candidacy, but momentum for him seemed to gather Saturday, with several of his grandmother’s eulogists coming out strongly for him.U.S. Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, and Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, were among about a dozen or so members of Congress at the funeral.

Both said they sat beside Carson near the end of her life and heard her say “Andre.” They encouraged voters to choose him to fill her seat.“If you love me, send my seed,” Kilpatrick said Carson told her. The remark drew loud applause.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan echoed the earlier calls for Andre Carson to succeed her in Washington.“She lives in the spiritual sense,” he said. “She lives in those whom she touched. She lives in Andre. She wants him to succeed her in service to the people. She wants him to be a good servant.”

When it was his turn to speak, Andre Carson talked only of his beloved grandmother.“She was a Christian woman,” he said. “But she had a universal nature.” He referred to her celebrated ability to mingle comfortably in any group.

Congressional Race Update

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The race to succeed Julia Carson is taking place behind the scenes because Carson, 69, is in the late stages of terminal lung cancer, she has no intention of resigning, and the process to name the Democratic nominee in a potential special election, should she pass away soon, is entirely in the hands of the 680 plus precinct committeepersons in the 7th Congressional District.    The rules of the Indiana Democratic Party are clear, A vacancy for U.S. House of Representatives shall be filled by a caucus of the eligible committeepersons whose precincts are within the congressional district.”        

Blogger Jim Shella is reporting that the vacancies in county precinct committeepersons are being filled rapidly in anticipation of having to name a nominee to succeed Ms. Julia.  In that inside baseball scenario, City-County Councilman Andre Carson, Ms. Carson’s grandson, is likely to have an advantage if his grandmother’s allies are filling the vacancies.

 

In Maryland, State Delegate Herman Taylor, a liberal and supposed friend of Al Wynn, has announced his candidacy for Congress against Al Wynn in an attempt to split the liberal vote progressive challenger Donna Edwards needs to de-throne the incumbent corporate whore.   The Washington Post is reporting that a delegation of business leaders came to Taylor to urge his candidacy.  If you believe that a so-called delegation of business leaders came to the independent conclusion that Taylor was better than Edwards on their own, I have a bridge in brooklyn for sale that I think would be a good retirement investment for you.

Julia Carson ends House career

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President Clinton came to Indianapolis on Oct. 21, 2000, to attend a public rally for Carson at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.    (Frank Espich/The Star)

Indiana Congresswoman Julia Carson, 69, of Indianapolis, has announced the end of her congressional career today by declining to seek a seventh term.    Ms. Carson has battled a number of serious health problems throughout her tenure and is now battling terminal lung cancer.  

The speculation surrounding the potential candidates is fierce.  Former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, Carson’s grandson, City Councilman Andre Carson,  State Reps. Carolene Mays and Gregory Porter and Center Township Trustee Carl Drummer have all been rumored as potential candidates.   Carson, Mays, Porter and Drummer are African American.

 Living in a district with an African American population of just under 30%, Ms. Carson’s potential black successors need to huddle in a pow-wow to determine which of them is the most viable and coalesce around that candidate.  Otherwise, the Congressional Black Caucus will lose this seat.   Ms. Carson’s endorsement is also key, as is the endorsement of former Rep. Andy Jacobs, her predecessor.    Mr. Jacobs has already endorsed Ms. Carson’s grandson.

A newly elected Indianapolis City Councilman, Andre is just taking office and has no public record.   A congressional campaign at this point is premature to me, but if he already has Mr. Jacobs support, he will probably receive Ms. Julia’s.  

Solidly Democratic, the 7th Congressional District hasn’t elected a Republican since its creation. Ms. Carson has been challenged by a series of black and white Republicans and defeated every single one with more than 53%.   The key here, as in many urban constituencies, is to win the Democratic primary and turn out Democratic voters in healthy numbers in the general .

I expect announcements of candidacies within the week.