Troy Carter leads congressional field, pollster Silas Lee finds

In a recent poll of 450 chronic voters in the Second Congressional District, state Sen. Troy Carter has a nine point lead over state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, 28 percent to 19 percent. Polling third at 6 percent was Baton Rouge activist was Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers Jr.

Small business owner Desiree Ontiveros came in fourth at 2 percent followed by Gonzales Republican challenger Claston Bernard, who also polled at 2 percent. Collectively the 10 remaining candidates — Chelsea Ardoin, Belden Batiste, Harold John, J. Christopher Johnson, Brandon Jolicoeur, Jenette Porter, Lloyd Kelly, Greg Lirette, Mindy McConnell and Sheldon Vincent — polled at a combined 6 percent.  District-wide, 38 percent of voters are still undecided.  In a heads-up competition between Carter and Carter Peterson the undecided vote dropped to 9 percent. Paid for by Sen. Carter’s campaign, the poll was taken Feb. 12-14 by Silas Lee using landlines and cell phones.  The margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Viewpoint: Term-limited Jared Brossett leads City Council in campaign cash

District D Councilman Jared Brossett almost has as much cash on hand in his campaign account than all the other council members combined. Brossett, who is term limited and expected to run for an at-large City Council position later this year, reported $103,471.61 in available dollars on his 2020 annual campaign finance report, which was filed last week. 

The other five City Council members (excluding newly appointed at-large member Donna Glapion) show a total of approximately $116,000 in available dollars.  

Brossett started 2020 with $102,178 in the bank and took in $1,750 during the year. Though his only donation in 2020 was to St. Augustine Church, Brossett’s 2019 expenditures included Biden for President, Kamala Harris for the People, JBE for Louisiana Leadership PAC and the McDonogh 35 Alumni Association. In 2019 and 2020, Brossett’s biggest donors include Liberty Bank President Alden McDonald, attorney James Williams, the Motwani family, the Helis Foundation, Eli Khoury’s Southeast Restaurant Group and Chase Catering & Concessions, which operates a restaurant at the Armstrong International Airport.

Viewpoint: Business leaders courting state Rep. Royce Duplessis for mayoral run

With qualifying for New Orleans municipal races just five months away, New Orleans business leaders are still scrambling to find a candidate they consider suitable to challenge Mayor LaToya Cantrell. District 93 state Rep. Royce Duplessis recently rose to the top of that list after a poll showed he would be viable in the race. 

Duplessis distanced himself from the poll and denied any current mayoral ambitions when asked about it Wednesday (Feb. 17), stating that, while he may be considering his future options, “challenging the incumbent mayor is not one of them.” 

Duplessis is one of the few elected officials who supported the election of DA Jason Williams, who is one of Duplessis’ closest allies. Business Council Chairman Henry Coaxum and Executive Director Coleman Ridley are both Williams’ donors along with HRI’s Pres Kabacoff. It’s no secret that many members of the business community are disappointed in Cantrell’s style and decision-making process.

Viewpoint: Troy Carter leads fundraising in race for Cedric Richmond’s seat in Congress

In documents filed yesterday with the Federal Elections Commission, state Sen. Troy Carter reported a fundraising haul of $405,118, far exceeding any of his opponents including state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, who raised $301,140 and Gary Chambers Jr. who reported $106,463. Carter, Carter Peterson and Chambers are among the 15 candidates vying to replace former Congressman Cedric Richmond, now a top aide to President Joe Biden. 

The filings covered fundraising activities through Dec. 31, 2020.  Political consultants estimate this race will cost about $1 million.    

During the reporting period, Carter spent only $26,687.50, leaving him with $378,430.50 in cash on hand. Carter received $48,350 in contributions from political action committees and $353,968 from individuals – almost evenly split between “high” donors who contributed more than $250 and “low” donors who contributed smaller amounts.  Almost 90% of Carter’s donors are Louisiana residents. What is impressive in Carter’s report is the dozens of individual donors who made the maximum contribution — $2,800.  Richmond’s endorsement of Carter’s candidacy almost certainly led to the steady flow of funds. 

Individuals in the $2,800 category include a Who’s Who of New Orleans legal and business community including Rico Alvendia, Cherie Teamer, James Garner, Anthony Irpino, Gladstone Jones, Leopold Sher, Bob Ellis, Joey Murray, Anthony Marullo, John Litchfield, Sundiata Haley, Troy Henry, Chris Coulon, Nathan Junius, Moe Bader, Dr. John Hamide and Ronald Bordelon.

Viewpoint: Fluctuating Entergy bills frustrate consumers

Understanding utility regulations is like playing chess. There are lots of parts and pieces – some players can control and others they cannot. Making the wrong move can lead to expensive consequences for consumers.  Many New Orleanians have been perplexed by the ever-changing fuel adjustment charges and other unanticipated costs that appear on their monthly bill.  

What’s a customer to do? After the demise of NOPSI, the City Council gave Entergy New Orleans the legal right to supply the city with reliable, affordable gas and electric power so that homes and businesses are relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Entergy New Orleans is also a business that has a financial obligation to its investors to turn a profit.

Viewpoint: Candidates offer new voices for Second Congressional District voters

Charter school co-principal Mindy McConnell and small business owner Jenette Porter —along with state Sen. Troy Carter, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson and Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers — all qualified yesterday for the open Second Congressional District seat recently vacated by former U.S. Rep Cedric Richmond, now a high-ranking aide to President Joe Biden. Qualifying continues until Friday (Jan. 22) at 4:30 p.m.  The race will be fast, furious, expensive and very competitive. The entrance of McConnell and Porter into the race will make the campaign more interesting to a wider range of voters. McConnell, 37, is a Libertarian who believes that it’s time to break up America’s two-party system.

Viewpoint: Political newcomers Desiree Ontiveros and Gary Chambers Jr. prepare to qualify for congressional seat

“Oh my God, I can’t believe it’s happening,” said Desiree Ontiveros about yesterday’s congressional vote to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time. A Latina who moved to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Ontiveros, 39, has formed an exploratory committee to seek Louisiana’s the Second Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond. 

Also recently announced for the race is Baton Rouge activist Gary Chambers Jr. Qualifying will begin Wednesday, Jan. 20, and continue through Friday, Jan. 22. A sixth-generation native of El Paso, Texas, Ontiveros attended New Mexico State University and received a degree in marketing from California State University in Los Angeles.  She considers New Orleans a “special city” that welcomed her with open arms. 

In 2016 Ontiveros started the Badass Balloon Co.

Rouses and Breaux Mart respond to social media frenzy and calls for boycotts

Two local supermarket chains, Rouses Supermarkets and Breaux Mart, issued statements Thursday afternoon in response to a social media furor over their owners’ political activities. On Wednesday night, Lamar White Jr., the editor of Bayou Brief, posted a photo on Twitter of Rouses co-owner Donald Rouse Sr. and a former Rouses executive, Steve Galtier, from Galtier’s now-deleted Facebook page. It was taken at Wednesday’s pro-Trump demonstration in Washington, D.C. and originally posted to show that not everyone at the rally was maskless. The photo went viral — setting off a frenzy of tweets and calls to boycott the store. Then writer Michael Tisserand replied to a tweet that “Breaux Mart is better anyway” with examples of pro-Trump Facebook posts from Barry Breaux, the owner of Breaux Mart.

Viewpoint: It will take more than a vaccine to restore America’s spirit

Amid an Epiphany Day marred by an unanticipated insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the state’s highest COVID rates, 87-year-old Isiah Steele received his long-awaited COVID-19 vaccination at New Orleans East Hospital. “I am so blessed to have gotten this vaccine,” said Steele, before lighting a candle at the Shrine of St. Jude. “I will sleep a little easier tonight.”

Steele has been locked down in his family home since mid-March, where he has fretted about his grandson, a senior soon to graduate from LSU, and his caregiver daughter, who goes to work almost every day despite the pandemic.  “While I worry about their health and safety, I am mourning the loss of a year of my life at a time when I don’t have too many years left,” he said. 

A chronic voter, Steele is also troubled by how ugly and divisive politics have become. “I pray that our elected leaders will seek consensus, get the virus under control and everybody back working again.