Royce Duplessis, Caleb Kleinpeter win elections to join Louisiana Senate

By: - November 8, 2022 11:51 pm

Democratic Rep. Royce Duplessis beat fellow Democratic Rep. Mandie Landry in a special election for a New Orleans state Senate seat.

Tuesday’s election didn’t do much to change the political dynamic of the Louisiana Senate, though two new members will join the upper chamber.

State Rep. Royce Duplessis beat out fellow Democrat Rep. Mandie Landry to take a Senate seat in New Orleans. He replaces former Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, a Democrat who resigned shortly before she admitted to illegally spending campaign and state party funds

West Baton Rouge Parish Council member Caleb Kleinpeter, a Republican, finished ahead of Rep. Jeremy Lacombe, a Democrat, to win a Senate race in the Baton Rouge area. He will take over for former Sen. Rick Ward, a Republican who stepped down in June to take a job with a lobbying firm

Duplessis’ new district encompasses a large swath of downtown New Orleans, uptown New Orleans and parts of Jefferson parish. Kleinpeter’s sprawling seat includes parts of East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Assumption, East Feliciana, West Feliciana, Iberville, Pointe Coupee, St. Helena and St. Martin parishes.

  

Peterson’s exit from the Legislature last spring left only five women in the 39-person Senate, less than 13% of its membership. It also ended a 30-year run in which New Orleans sent a Black woman to the state Senate. Now, the New Orleans delegation in the Senate will be made up of entirely men. 

Peterson and her two immediate predecessors in Senate District 5, Cheryl Gray Evans and Diana Bajoie, are Black women. Elected in 1991, Bajoie was the first Black woman to ever hold a Senate seat. 

Before she resigned, Peterson was also the only woman in the Senate who favored abortion rights, an issue that has garnered more attention after Louisiana enacted a strict abortion ban this year. The remaining women senators, including two Democrats, oppose abortion and voted in favor of Louisiana’s new ban. 

Duplessis is pro abortion rights and said he intends to focus on reproductive policy as a senator. He also said he will also tackle some of the same issues he has focused on as a Louisiana House member: housing, health care and criminal justice.

Duplessis and Kleinpeter will have to run for their Senate jobs again next year. They won their new seats through special elections to serve out the remaining term of their predecessors.

  

When they run in 2023, their districts will also likely be different, thanks to new Senate district maps slated to take effect. Kleinpeter’s seat is supposed to pick up portions of St. Landry Parish. Duplessis’ district will include a larger chunk of Jefferson Parish.

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.

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