Fulfilling his family’s legacy, Indianapolis City-Councilor André Carson (D) won Tuesday’s special election to serve out the rest of the term vacated by his late grandmother. Rep. Julia Carson (D) died in December following a battle with lung cancer.
With all of the precincts reporting, Carson defeated state Rep. Jon Elrod (R), 54 percent to 43 percent. A Democratic leadership aide said Carson will be sworn into office Thursday.
Carson had an advantage in both name recognition and money, outspending Elrod nearly 5-1 in the special contest. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee invested somewhat heavily in the race as well, pumping $257,000 into the district and sending staff to Indianapolis.
“I am grateful to the Congressional Black Caucus, Senator Evan Bayh and Indiana’s Democratic Congressional Delegation for encouraging the people of this district to vote for change by supporting André Carson,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said in a statement.
DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell also confirmed Wednesday that the committee would continue supporting Carson through the May 6 Democratic primary for the full term, despite the fact that he has three well-funded Democratic opponents.
“Yes, we’re supporting André Carson,” Thornell said. “The DCCC has a long-standing policy of supporting our incumbent Members.”
Carson faces three competitive Democrats on May 6: state Rep. Carolene Mays, state Rep. David Orentlicher and former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers. Elrod also has a primary on May 6, but it is not considered to be competitive, before taking on the Democratic victor this November.
Carson’s election also marks a historic benchmark for Congress: He is the second Muslim Member to be elected in as many cycles. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who took office in 2007, was the first.
“In this special election, the people of Indianapolis spoke with a unified voice and sent a clear message about the kind of leadership they want in Congress,” Carson said in a statement. “I will be part of a new generation of bold leadership who will stand up and take responsibility for changing our country.”
— Shira Toeplitz