Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fields to run for Congress in Louisiana’s new majority-Black 6th District

by BIZ Magazine

BY: PIPER HUTCHINSONLouisiana Illuminator

State Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, will run for Congress in the newly redrawn 6th Congressional District, he announced Tuesday.

Fields previously served in the U.S. House from 1993-1997 when Louisiana had two majority Black seats, but what was then the 4th Congressional District was ruled an unconstitutional racial gerrymander and thrown out.

Louisiana had just one majority Black district until Monday, when Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed a bill into law that turned the 6th District, currently held by Baton Rouge-based Republican U.S. Rep. Garret Graves into a majority Black district. It now stretches from Caddo Parish in northwest Louisiana to East Baton Rouge Parish.

The new map must be approved by the federal judge who ordered the legislature to redraw the district, but attorneys for the Black voters who challenged a single Black-majority congressional map approved in 2022 say they are unlikely to object. Their data indicate both majority Black districts can support candidates Black voters prefer, which is the redistricting objective of a majority Black district.

Fields, an attorney, is a long-time elected official, serving in the state senate from 1988-1993, again from 1997-2008 and from 2020-present.

Despite being a liberal Democrat, Fields has shown a willingness to work with Landry, which allowed him to receive the plum Senate and Governmental Affairs chairmanship. As chair, Fields oversaw the redistricting process that resulted in the new majority Black district.

Fields will likely be joined in the race by Graves, who has indicated he will still run for re-election despite his redrawn district heavily favoring a Democrat. Gary Chambers, a former U.S. Senate candidate, is also rumored to be mulling a bid.

Fields also had a connection to former Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was convicted and sentenced to prison for racketeering. Fields was caught on an FBI surveillance tape stuffing about $20,000 in cash in his pockets after accepting it from Edwards. Fields was never charged with a crime, but the notoriety has followed him for decades.

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