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. 

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