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December 8th, 2008
02:06 PM ET

Jefferson Defeat Not About Race

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/06/louisiana.congress/art.jefferson.gi.jpg caption="Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson has been embroiled in a bribery scandal."]

Earl Ofari Hutchinson
The Hutchinson Political Report

The much deserved defeat of scandal plagued Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson by Vietnamese-American immigration attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao was not about race.

Whites did flock to the polls in bigger numbers than usual and the black voter turnout was much less than in the primary. But despite the ramp up in white votes, blacks still make up the majority of voters in Jefferson’s district. While many blacks voted for him out of old loyalty, a significant number didn’t. The lower voter black turnout in essence was a vote against him.

His defeat then was about ethics, interest and just plain common sense. Jefferson was not just an embarrassment. He was hopelessly damaged political goods and by plopping him back into office for a tenth term his black constituents would have been the losers.

If ever there was a case that screamed for scrubbing race from politics it was the Jefferson case. He has been on the legal hot seat for many months. He was indicted, and faces trial on bribery and corruption charges. He was stripped of his seniority on a key House committee. He left a bitter taste in the mouths of many New Orleans residents during the Katrina debacle, when he allegedly commandeered a National Guard truck to check on his personal property and save personal belongings at the same moment nearby residents needed rescue from possible drowning.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Heather,ca

    I think Cao's win is very symbolic for many reasons. Its not only about change its about integrity, honesty and trust. Think about how cynical we have become over politics and politicians. We have seen so many of them lie and cheat that we dont even get upset anymore.We just say what else is new. I hope the winner shows that the change he is going to bring is just being honest and all the basic fundamental things you expect from your representative. I think its wonderful and all the voters deserve some fresh new help they can believe in.

    December 8, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  2. Larry

    Will Pelosi dare take on Charlie Rangel (19 terms)( are there no term limits on congressmen)?

    December 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  3. Mary V., Salt Lake City, UT

    Of course not! IF Jefferson was breaking the law....... he DOES NOT deserve to serve as congressman. Period! Not about race.

    @ Cindy.... I agree 100% with you!

    December 8, 2008 at 4:04 pm |
  4. Diane - IL

    People voted for Cao because they thought he was the man with more integrity. I hope some day we can stop talking about a person's race and talk just about where he/she stands on issues.

    December 8, 2008 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Germaine

    I don't live in New Orleans anymore due to Hurricane Katrina, but I still own property there as well as have relatives who moved back. I personally am glad to see him gone. They need to put term limits on these seats, so someone doesn't think he's entitled to it after so many years. How dare he even run for the seat again after all of his indictments. It's an insult to the people in his district. I say Good Riddance!

    December 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  6. Cindy

    Jefferson deserved to lose his seat. Anyone that takes bribes does! It's about time that the people of Louisiana stood up to their corrupt politicians and kicked them to the curb.

    Cindy...Ga.

    December 8, 2008 at 2:13 pm |