In the Congressional race for Louisiana’s Second District, which is a safe Democratic seat that covers much of New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish, former state representative and city councilman Troy Carter is the best candidate to defeat and replace the soon-to-indicted Bill Jefferson.  A hard worker with no alphabet soup baggage (BOLD, LIFE, SOUL, etc.) , Carter is a smart and experienced politician and entrepreneur.  Endorsed by the likes of Arnold Fielkow and Harry Lee, he will fight on the issues important to the city, like flood protection and offshore oil royalties.  He will be a safe Democratic vote on social issues and will work with Republicans on economic issues.  And he gets bonus points for his having a beautiful wife (former news anchor Melanie Saunders) and cute kids.

Forget the conventional wisdom that he can’t win – two independent polls a couple of weeks ago had him running second – and that state representative Karen Carter will make the runoff with Jefferson.  Although Rep. Carter has the support of the state Democratic party and even a few Republicans, and whatever is left of the BOLD political machine, she was horrible in the debates and has taken some serious shots for her ties to a law firm that advises the City Council on utility regulation pursuant to a no-bid contract.  Like most politicians in this town, her father was also a politician – one of the seven assessors – which is reason enough to be wary.

The other challenger with a decent shot is state senator and anti-butt crack crusader Derrick Shepard.  He has lined up the support of a bunch of Jefferson Parish politicians and has a “Marrero Machine” that could get cranked up and put him in the runoff.  But until he can show us he’s got some Uptown cred – like campaigning on the corner of Napolean and St. Charles for starters – we’ll stay away for now.

On the Republican side, lawyer Joe Lavigne did a good job raising money and was in a position to make some waves, but he make a devastating rookie mistake with a  ridiculous radio ad ripping President Bush on Iraq and Katrina.  Although he earned points with people who would never vote for him (like Your Right Hand Thief), he alienated his base and left all but the most faithful GOPers scrambling for a candidate that can actually beat Dollar Bill.

Speaking of Dollar Bill, we’re still waiting for the honorable explanation as to why he had $90,000 in his freezer and why people are telling judges they bribed him and are going to jail.  It really is a shame the guy is evidently such a thief, because he is a skilled and talented legislator (from Uptown) who would work with Republicans and used to have considerable influence on the Hill, before soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi booted him off Ways and Means.

If New Orleanians do the right thing, Jefferson will be a lame duck around this time tomorrow night, and the feds, who are either painfully slow or are, more likely, waiting for the election to run its course before bringing an indictment, can move in and do their thing.

A prediction for this the last non-partisan open primary for a Congressional race in Louisiana?  (The state is moving to the more traditional closed party primary in two years.)  Both Carters make the runoff.  Jefferson third, Shepard fourth, Lavigne fifth.  TC goes to DC in Dec.