Mid-City, Bayou St. John, Hollygrove, Gert Town, Esplanade, Tulane-Gravier
This is the first election for the new district, which was added for New Orleans after legislative redistricting in 2022. It’s home to a large number of DSA members and fellow-traveler leftists, holding promise for a socialist to someday make a splash in the Statehouse. This year, four Democrats are running.
Bryan Jefferson (D) is a lawyer running on a loosely-defined platform which mostly holds space for more cops and insurance incentives. Shaun Mena (D) has no stated platform, but is also a lawyer running on similar-if-not-slightly-more-friendly vibes as Jefferson. He also carries a few endorsements (including Orleans Parish Democrats and Greater New Orleans Republicans).
Tammy Savoie (D) is a Katie Bernhardt Democrat with a platform that is largely useless when it comes to legislation that will help the working class. For example, she promises to tackle the affordable housing crisis (with gusto!) but doesn’t mention any supportive policies for renters. Savoie currently serves as a member of the Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC), and aligns herself with the party’s current leadership (that failed to run Democratic candidates in a majority of house districts). While she is appropriately defensive of abortion rights, she capitulated to the party leaders that gave up the fight at the first chance she had. As in her previous unsuccessful campaigns, Savoie centers her experience in the military over any real policy positions.
In stark contrast to the above candidates, Pearl Ricks (D) deeply understands the interconnectedness of poverty and public safety, and speaks directly to the needs of poor and working people in our city and state. On the labor front, they support a $25 minimum wage increase, a “workers bill of rights,” mandating safe conditions and unionization rights, investment in job training for young people and formerly incarcerated people, and mandatory pay transparency. They have the most robust climate and environmental policy platform of any candidate in this race. Ricks currently serves as the Executive Director for the Reproduction Justice Action Collective (ReJAC), and has more prominently and urgently addressed the need for abortion protections than any other candidate in this race. If elected, they would become the first open member of the LGBTQ community elected to the state legislature in Louisiana and first transgender and nonbinary elected government official in the state (Davante Lewis, the first openly gay man elected to state office, serves in the Public Service Commission, which is part of the state executive branch; Peyton Rose Michelle, the first transgender person elected to any office in Louisiana, serves on the party-level Democratic State Central Committee). Ricks stands to become one of the state's farthest left legislators both in terms of actual policy and in their declared intent to fight the far-right elements within the legislature. Ricks has received endorsements from the Forum for Equality, Step Up for Action, and 10,000 Women Louisiana. Our chapter unanimously recommends voting for Pearl Ricks for House District 23.
Kyle M. Green Jr. (D) is a one-term incumbent from a political family; his father previously represented the nearby District 87. Green touts his major accomplishments as the expansion of school lunch programs and his efforts to address skyrocketing insurance rates as a member of the House Insurance Committee. He voted with the majority of his House Democratic colleagues against the anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in the last legislative session, but did not vote to limit the expansion of dangerous carbon capture projects.
Reginald Jasmin (R) thinks legislators have done too much legislating lately. As Jasmin told the Advocate: “Every time something happens, we go and make another law.” He wants to convene a special session to repeal as many laws as possible. He is a conservative and the main plank of his platform is income tax abolition.
Terrytown, Bellemeade, Timberlane, and Gretna
The first thing on Andrew Bennett (N)’s website is “securing a future for Louisiana Workers”, focusing on the plight of the working class in his district and across the state, and refusing corporate and party donations. He openly advocates for increased teacher pay, raising the minimum wage, repealing right to work laws, marijuana legalization, decriminalizing abortion, and publicly funded home insurance. Bennet’s aversion to partisanship and bold progressive policies and labor support are commendable, with condemnation of political parties representing corporate interests over the people of Louisiana. Bennet received a 100% from Greater New Orleans Housing Authority’s #PutHousingFirst scorecard compared to 0% from the remaining candidates.
Vincent E. Cox III (R) was previously a Gretna City Councilmember who retired in 2013 after unsuccessfully running for Mayor. He boasts a resume of advancing parks and recreation in Gretna, but does not offer any policies or platform of any kind on his website.
Andrea Manuel (D) is currently a teacher at her alma mater Riverdale High School, and previously taught at athletic factory John Curtis Christian School, St. Mary’s Dominican, and Esperanza Charter. She was a foreign missionary in Venezuela from 1996-1998 before the election of Hugo Chavez. She’s a member of the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee. Her platform is light on specifics with education or the insurance crisis, but she does advocate for more police and tougher penalties on the incarcerated to keep Gretna “safe” in the same city that has a history of racial discrimination and violence towards Black citizens, and at one time arrested 1 of every 3 citizens in a city where 8 out of 9 people are Black.
Harvey and Marrero
Rodney Lyons Sr. (D) has been in office for two terms. His primary role has been as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which plays a major role in determining the state budget. In the previous session, he voted against the gender-affirming care ban, the Don't Say Gay bill, and the restrictions on local libraries championed by hard-right conservatives. On carbon capture, he voted the way the massive army of lobbyists for the industry wanted him to.
Trent Mackey Jr. (D) is the principal at Jefferson RISE charter school. He doesn't provide a lot of specific policy proposals, only justifying his candidacy with a vague implication that new leadership is needed.
Irish Channel to Central City
Mandie Landry (D) is the most progressive member of the state legislature and it’s not particularly close. She is not afraid to wage lonely fights or cast lonely votes to do the right thing. As a result, she has found herself fighting against the Republicans harder than any of her colleagues. Landry was the legislature’s most vocal opponent to Louisiana’s anti-abortion “trigger law” before the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. After Dobbs, Landry found herself again at odds with Republicans and her more conservative Democratic colleagues, as she led the charge to impose basic restrictions on the state’s draconian anti-choice policies in cases where the parent’s life is threatened or the pregnancy is not viable. The Democratic Party at large did not make that fight a priority in the 2023 legislative session. Landry did everything she could, but those absolute restrictions remain in place unamended. While the established Democrats call such capitulation “compromise,” even though such “compromise” rarely produces positive results for their constituents, Landry presses on. Her tenacity and commitment clearly contrasts with the house style of Louisiana Democrats who prefer playing nice with those threatening reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, workers, the poor, racial minorities, and the marginalized in general.
We spend a lot of time in these guides walking our readers through the candidates’ support networks and mapping them to existing power structures. Where do their endorsements come from? Who is giving them money? But it’s just as important to say something about who these people are. Where do they come from? What legacy explains them, empowers them, motivates them? Mandie Landry is the daughter of a union household. Her father was a proud member of the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 60 here in New Orleans. Her upbringing and education were made possible by the strength of the American labor movement, and she has not forgotten that. This is an exciting but also trying time for labor. A new and defiant energy is guiding a diverse movement from autoworkers to actors, from delivery drivers to drinks servers, workers are demanding a better deal. It is imperative that at critical moments like these that we have representatives in the halls of state power who understand and sympathize with that struggle. Mandie Landry is by far the most reliable ally to labor in this race, if not the entire legislature.
While we did not endorse any legislative candidates in 2019, our chapter first crossed paths with Landry early in her tenure when we supported Women With A Vision’s sex work decriminalization campaign shortly after her election that year. Fulfilling a campaign promise, Landry introduced the requisite decriminalization bill in the legislature and stuck her neck out for a cause few would stake their reputation on. But she did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do, and because her constituents counted on her. That courage goes a long way in demonstrating where your priorities are as a politician: do they lie only in their own ambitions, or in your constituents’ dreams for a better world? Landry doesn’t just endorse those positions to win elections, she dreams of that better world herself.
In 2022, Landry ran for state Senate to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Karen Carter Peterson. Several local progressive organizations, ourselves included, did not endorse one candidate over the other in what ended up being a contentious race between Landry and her colleague, then-Rep. Royce Duplessis. However, the state Democratic Party, despite its professed neutrality, may have tipped the scales in that race in surreptitiously supporting Duplessis over Landry. During that cycle, the state party made a similar move against DSA member Davante Lewis’s successful run for Public Service Commissioner, when the party accepted a donation from Entergy Louisiana and immediately transferred it to Lewis’s opponent, Entergy crony Lambert Boissiere. These weasley and unprincipled moves by the party leadership have stirred up discontent within its ranks against its oil heiress chair, Katie Bernhardt, which has only grown since. In an expression of that discontent, Landry briefly changed her registration to No Party in protest, but returned a few months after.
Searching for better allies more steadfastly committed to progressive ideals, for both herself and those inspired by her tenure who came to her looking for ways to get involved, Landry joined New Orleans DSA and immediately made herself available to our leadership and members. She’s also proudly told her supporters that New Orleans DSA is a place where those who really want to fight for a better Louisiana - and not just for scraps of petty patronage - should go. Maybe we’re suckers for flattery, but the fact is, the relationship is reciprocal: we have a reliable and committed champion in Baton Rouge, and Landry can count on a new base of support that isn’t dependent on a party apparatus that actively works against progressive goals. We’re immensely proud and lucky to have Landry in our chapter and to support her re-election. We don’t endorse lightly: endorsements are available only to members who participate in a democratic and involved process that allows each of our members access to the candidate and input on our endorsement decisions. Once we vote to endorse, we’re all-in, meaning getting our candidates (back) in office is the chapter’s top priority, and every member pitches in. Our chapter voted to endorse Landry by a vote of 82 aye, 9 nay, and 3 abstentions.
If you aren’t convinced yet, we’re happy to tell you more about Landry’s performance as a legislator. She stood up for transgender Louisianans in opposing the Republican-led attempt to override Governor Edwards’s veto of the ban on gender affirming care. Many of her colleagues (on both sides of the aisle) lacked the courage to. . She has already fought Jeff Landry directly in her efforts to pass a conversion therapy ban. With the support of VOTE, Landry has pushed for better health care in prisons with a bill to abolish co-pays for the incarcerated at prison infirmaries, and is one of the few Louisiana politicians willing to speak out against the use of solitary confinement. Landry also has a good claim to the title of best legislator on labor issues, thanks to her efforts to end the misclassification of employees as independent contractors and for suing the Governor for cutting off federal unemployment benefits during the pandemic. She was a leader in banning evictions in the wake of hurricanes, has consistently stood for tenants’ right to counsel in eviction court, and got a bill passed that punishes slumlords for keeping their tenants in squalid conditions. Landry, in a move that takes more courage than many realize, was appointed to the committee to investigate the Louisiana State Police’s murder of Ronald Greene. And the only bill against gun violence to get passed in Louisiana in years was her work; meanwhile, many of her colleagues don’t even bother trying. There’s way too much to make a comprehensive list, but in short: Landry always bothers trying, and in trying has found success when others would just sit out. There are only so many ways to say it, but Mandie Landry is the best legislator this state has seen in some time, as reflected in these results and her popularity among her constituents, and we encourage you to cast a vote for her.
In stark contrast, Madison O’Malley (D) is running the most cynical campaign of any race this cycle. We have already mentioned, over and over, that the Democratic Party has not bothered to contest the majority of races, including in districts that voted by significant margins for President Joe Biden in 2020. Rather than putting resources into growing the party in Louisiana, Democratic kingmakers - and Republican kingmakers, too - are tripping over themselves to oust the most progressive sitting legislator in the state by far. O’Malley is the stalking horse for that self-interested cabal of political insiders.
O’Malley has little in the way of ties to the district, to the state, or even to the Democratic Party. She’s admitted to living in the district for only eight months, and has voted more often in Ohio than in Louisiana. O’Malley actively courted and won the endorsement of the Orleans Republicans, and accepted a donation from self-styled kingmaker of the Louisiana GOP, Lane Grigsby. The Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee has endorsed O’Malley as well. This is made all the more insulting to committed progressive voters when checking O’Malley’s voting record in her previous home state of Ohio, which indicates she voted in the state’s Republican primary elections as recently as 2014. O’Malley also has the distinction of endorsement from the Democrats for Education Reform, the premier liberal charter school booster responsible for paying off (or, if you prefer, building consensus among) local Democratic politicians to privatize New Orleans’s public schools. It’s clear that the Democratic Party establishment’s priority in this race is preserving the party leadership’s petty fiefdoms at the expense of actually winning battles for working families and all marginalized Louisianans at the ballot box and in the legislature.
In one last backstabbing of progressives on his way out the Governor’s Mansion, Governor Edwards endorsed O’Malley, saying that she would work more “amicably” with the Republican colleagues Edwards seems to appreciate more than the progressives who actually fought to elect and re-elect him. He’s probably bitter that Landry was and remains the fiercest critic of his decision to ban abortion, a bill authored by other conservative Democrats, and his dishonesty around the lack of exemptions in the ban. O’Malley pays lip service to abortion rights, but signals absolutely no indication that she’ll counteract the increasingly conservative state Democratic Party’s moves to abandon abortion as a salient issue. If you care about reproductive freedom, O’Malley won’t fight for you, not if she has to step on the toes of both Republican and Democratic party leadership.
The Governor’s decision to weigh in here may also be explained by his support for (and possible future job lobbying for) the oil and gas industry. Madison O’Malley has family and mentors with close ties to the fossil fuel money that ties the State Democratic Party together and promises people like John Bel Edwards a future easy income. O’Malley’s fiance Blake Corley comes from oil money and does work for a Houston based oil field services company called Precision Powered Products. It has also been noted that Corley and the Democratic Party have, through PACs and LLCs funneled large donations of questionable provenance to O’Malley’s campaign.The party can't abide direct challenges to its essential corruption and Edwards is as much a part of that club as any of them.
In addition to the dirty party machine machinations that have powered her campaign, O’Malley has been remarkably dishonest about her background and record, beyond just the question of where she lives. She casts her business experience as being in service of victims of Hurricane Ida, but she was not present for the storm and has reported that the business made less than $5,000 while donating the maximum $2500 to her campaign, which would seem to indicate either unreliable financial reporting or that she did less than she claims. She has also loaned well over $100,000 of dubious origin to her own campaign, which again calls into question how O'Malley makes a living. She refers to her “legal experience” but only ever served as a kind of intern for a few months; she is not a lawyer and has no law degree. There is no telling where who the real O'Malley is, and where a totally orchestrated fiction begins.
O’Malley cannot distinguish her platform from her incumbent opponent’s because she has no authentic platform. She is meant to serve as a proxy for her donor’s interests and those of the conservative administration of the state Democratic Party led by Katie Bernhardt. In no uncertain terms: we do not think anybody should vote for Madison O’Malley.
Political newcomer Ed Carlson (D) is currently the CEO of Odyssey House, a nonprofit behavioral health and social services organization that works mostly to house and provide health care to people with substance abuse issues. Odyssey House has done good work, but Carlson now earns over $300,000 per year in his role as CEO, with his salary increasing substantially each year. Executive compensation represents well over half a million in Odyssey House's annual spending. Yes, nonprofits can do good work, but no, nobody should be scraping that much off the top of any charitable organization, even if it's legal.
Most of Carlson's platform revolves, in some way or another, around his experience in substance abuse treatment. This experience constitutes the basis of his 15-page crime reduction plan, titled "Crime Reduction through Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Plan for New Orleans." Carlson believes police have an integral role to play in that plan, notably specifying an unfounded preference for belief in the efficacy of forced treatment. Carlson's commitment to combating substance abuse in his private life is admirable, but we do not support any political efforts to involve police even further in mental health concerns where their presence is not beneficial or necessary.
Lakeview, City Park, Bucktown, Causeway Boulevard
Stephanie Hilferty (R) is a two-term incumbent looking to serve a final term representing District 94. She has worked with New Orleans officials for regulatory changes that give the City more authority, such as giving City Council the power to audit the Sewerage and Water Board. Hilferty is the daughter of Dwan Hilferty, frequent leadership member and current treasurer of the Jefferson Parish Democratic Executive Committee. Professionally, she works in the real estate industry.
On occasion, Rep. Hilferty has been described as a “moderate” and has received support and endorsements from prominent local Democrats including City Councilmember Joe Giarrusso. However, her campaign funding and voting record would suggest otherwise. Like most LA Republicans, Hilferty routinely receives campaign funding from oil and gas, real estate, and major industrial capitalists through PACs, corporations, and individual donors, all during a climate catastrophe and a housing crisis for both renters and homeowners.
Her voting record in the recent legislative session suggests that any “moderate” wing of the LA Republican Party is still a reactionary right-wing politic that promotes bigotry in the name of “safety.” She scored a 36% on VOTE’s scorecard, including yes votes on HB70 (to increase the mandatory sentence for 4th nonviolent felonies from 25% to 65% served) and HB85 (which forbids people from being within 25 feet of a police officer working). She also voted to override the governor’s veto of HB648 (which bans medical treatments for transgender youth), as well as voting yes on SB7 to require libraries to restrict “sexually explicit” material, which is code used to ban all LGBTQ-related materials. At least four bills vetoed by the governor were voted yes by Rep. Hilferty, aligning with the far-right wing of the party on culture war issues.
Charles Marsala (R) has previous political experience in California, where he was a councilmember and mayor of Atherton. This city is the wealthiest zip code in the entire country, with a median household income of over $250k, which is the maximum recorded by the Census; a median home value of over $2,000,000 with 88.4% of residents owning their home; and a racial composition of only 1.18% Black residents – demographics certainly not representative of New Orleans. He is a native New Orleanian currently living in a boat house, and is President of the American-Italian Federation of Southeast Louisiana. Marsala has been a proponent of historical markers about racial violence against Italians in New Orleans, and has written about the merits of Columbus Day, asking for people to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on a different weekend to not distract from praising a mass murderer. Marsala is a frequent contributor to the right-wing rag The Hayride and wrote a book called “Monumental Heist” which describes the four removed Confederate monuments as “$30 million in art”. Hooah! - he also once purchased the Ferrari that Al Pacino drove in “Scent of a Woman” off of eBay.
Marsala previously ran in Louisiana for the US Senate in 2016, where he received 0.2% of the total votes. In 2020, he was elected to the New Orleans Republican Executive Committee. During a forum, Marsala questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election results. He has given political contributions to Republicans like Bobby Jindal as well as Democrats like LaToya Cantrell and Aylin Acikalin. His platform centers around a dispute that he has been personally engaged with since 2022 regarding the West End Lakeshore Park, where Rep. Hilferty and Councilmember Giarrusso have been working to rezone the area at the behest of businesses and developers against the wishes of local residents. He has stated that coastal restoration, unfunded police pension liabilities, and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico were other issues he’d focus on, and proposed a 1% cap on property tax increases.
Incumbent Mack Cormier (D) is one of the unlucky incumbents facing a particularly challenging re-election campaign. Cormier won his seat in 2019, when he beat the sitting representative, Chris Leopold. While the victory was mostly credited to the candidates’ stances on a local toll road issue, it was an upset that denied the Republicans a supermajority required to override the governor’s veto - at least on paper. Cormier has had an unremarkable tenure at the Capitol, with few accomplishments and a track record of avoiding all risk. A conservative Democrat, Cormier voted with Republicans to override Governor Edwards’s veto of a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Cormier likely did so fearing backlash in his conservative district rather than personal convictions (not that it absolves him one bit), but it evidently did not do him any favors: two Republicans and one other Democrat will attempt to usurp an incumbent District 105 representative for the second time in two election cycles.
Jacob Braud (R) has the endorsement of the Plaquemines Parish Republicans. He is an attorney who is active in local business owners’ interest groups. Insurance relief is listed as a major point of his platform, which is understandable given the district includes Plaquemines Parish, which is dwindling in size both in terms of population and geography thanks to climate change and coastal land loss. Braud has represented insurance companies in addition to policy holders, so it’s hard to be confident in his proposed solutions, which themselves are hard to know, as they are not specified online. He also claims to prioritize coastal restoration, but is again short on specifics.
Joanna Cappiello-Leopold (D) is the wife of the former representative unseated by Cormier, Chris Leopold. She has centered criticism of Cormier’s job performance in her campaign messaging, accusing him of neglecting his constituents and being absent from local district affairs. She used to work for Chevron, and, like all of her fellow candidates, accepts and celebrates the presence of Venture Global LNG in Plaquemines Parish, where the company is building massive terminals to export methane gas (AKA natural gas) overseas for sale. Methane is over eighty times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, and LNG infrastructure leaks methane constantly.
Don Vallee’s (R) last foray into politics was when he ran for New Orleans City Council in District B in 2012, before he dropped out ahead of election day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, his residency within the district was questioned, but a judge took his word that he now lives with his wife within the district in Belle Chasse. He is a landlord and president of the Landlord Advisory Committee of New Orleans. In that role, he fought the New Orleans Healthy Homes Ordinance, which would have protected renters from negligent landlords, and was successful in watering it down when the author, Councilman JP Morrell, removed mandatory inspections from the proposal. Vallee is also a gun range owner.