Some Congressional Races Remain Undecided

There are still congressional races that have yet to be decided, thanks to the quirky election laws of Texas and Louisiana. Mike Pesca discusses these unresolved contests with Luke Burbank.

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MIKE PESCA, host:

In some states those unique election rules mean races haven't even seen a final vote yet. There's a congressional seat in Texas that's yet to be decided and a really interesting one in Louisiana.

NPR's Luke Burbank is here to fill us in. Luke, take us down to the Pelican state if you will.

LUKE BURBANK: Well Mike, you know, it's muggy in Louisiana, there's moss growing on things. They do things a little slower down there and so the way the system works in Louisiana. They have what's called an open primary, which means any voter of any political affiliation can vote for any candidate and on November 7th when everyone else is having their sort of final elections, in Louisiana the top two vote getters, even if they're from the same party, will then run against each other in a later run off, that's provided one of them doesn't get the majority of the votes.

So in this case, William Jefferson got 30 percent of the vote, a woman named Karen Carter who is a state legislator she got the second most votes and they're running against each other come December 9th.

PESCA: And reacquaint us with William Jefferson. What are his recent accomplishments?

BURBANK: Well, dodging prosecution from the FBI most recently. He's this guy from Louisiana who took a bunch of bribes. They videotaped it they say. They even say that they found $90,000 of marked money in his freezer. He denies all the allegations and is running for congress again despite the cloud hanging over him.

PESCA: And how's the money in the freezer ticket going?

BURBANK: Well about as well as you might imagine Mike which to say not very good at all. His opponent, Karen Carter, she has more money, more money from cooler people like Spike Lee who has donated to her campaign. And William Jefferson has been kicked off the Ways and Means Committee, which was one of the big reasons people might want to re-elect him. Actually, here's a clip from one of the TV ads he's been running.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Representative William Jefferson: Our country was built on some fundamental rights. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the presumption of innocence afforded to every person unless proven guilty in a court of law.

BURBANK: Now Mike don't let the inspirational horn music fool you. Even as sonically positive as that is, if you're going on TV spending money to tell people that there's a theoretical chance you're not guilty, it's not a good sign for your campaign.

PESCA: I guess it's better than the alternate slogan, William Jefferson a man of conviction. What happens if he loses?

BURBANK: Well you know I've been down to the New Orleans area and talked to voters and interestingly there's a lot of suspicion there among some people anyway of the FBI and of Washington in quotes. So, I think even if Jefferson, if he manages to not do serious time over the alleged bribery, if he goes back to New Orleans I think he'll be at least relatively popular guy. I don't know. Mayor Jefferson could have a nice ring to it.

PESCA: And stranger things have happened in Louisiana politics, he just may win. NPR's Luke Burbank thanks very much.

BURBANK: Sure Mike.

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