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La. Dem Incumbent Wins House Runoff

"People are watching this election all around the country and I can only imagine what they are thinking," Thomas said. "It will be very difficult to go back to them and ask them to trust us with the money we need here."

Carter's campaign spokesman and father, Ken Carter, said he felt they had done all they could to compete against Jefferson, but regretted the tone of the campaign in the final stages.

"Race is all too often a factor in campaigns in New Orleans," Ken Carter said. "Here we had a candidate that tried to paint this young African-American woman as a pawn of the white establishment."

One white voter, George Christen, a registered independent, cast his ballot in a predominantly white precinct in the Algiers neighborhood, just across the Mississippi River from the French Quarter.

"I just didn't want Jefferson in. Period," said Christen, 42. "Jefferson is an embarrassment. He needs to be out."

Jefferson did get a vote from Jene Allen, who is black.

"He started the job. Let him finish it," said Allen, who wouldn't give her age. "I know Karen Carter would be the first black woman, but I think she played it dirty, too dirty."

Jefferson, 59, drew widespread support among blacks who are skeptical of the federal government's motives in its investigation of him. He repeatedly suggested the probe is groundless because he has yet to be indicted more than a year after the FBI raided his home in New Orleans.

Carter, 37, raised nearly five times as much money as Jefferson, but she was largely outflanked in the endorsement game. Jefferson picked up the backing of Mayor Ray Nagin and other prominent black politicians.

The endorsements spoke to Jefferson's solid footing in New Orleans politics. He arrived here in the 1970s as a Harvard-educated lawyer from rural north Louisiana, the sixth of 10 children brought up in a three-room country home. By 1980, he represented New Orleans in the state Senate. At 42, he became the first black from Louisiana in the House since Reconstruction.

The law firm Jefferson founded became the largest black-owned practice in the South. He created a political organization, the Progressive Democrats, which fielded candidates for the school board, assessors' races, state House seats and mayoral contests.

Before the bribery scandal erupted, Jefferson had climbed to the pinnacle of the Democratic Party. He was a confidant of former President Bill Clinton.

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Associated Press writer Mary Foster contributed to this report.


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