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Louisiana Senate Candidate Gary Chambers Calls Out Racism In Party Endorsement Decision 

U.S. Senate Democratic Candidate Gary Chambers, D-Baton Rouge, at the National Cannabis Festival at RFK Stadium. April 23rd, 2022. Flickr/shedrick pelt

The Louisiana Democratic Central Committee (DCC) bypassed a subcommittee’s vote to endorse progressive Gary Chambers as the Democratic nominee against Republican John Kennedy for the upcoming U.S. Senate election, and instead voted to endorse three candidates, which lead to a “jungle primary.” One of these candidates is Chambers, who is Black. 

During a regular procedural meeting by the Louisiana DCC to vote to endorse candidates for statewide races, multiple changes were implemented. The process by the committee usually sees the candidate voted by the executive committee then head over to the larger DCC to be voted on for the endorsement. This endorsement matters because once a candidate is chosen, they receive the resources and funding to further build their campaign to be victorious in the midterms. 

Chambers secured the vote by the executive committee on Saturday in a 9-7-2 vote. However, following the executive committee vote, a resolution authored by Rep. Denise Marcelle had been proposed and called for all of the candidates running for Senate and Public Service Commission for Congressional District 3 to be endorsed. This includes white moderate Luke Mixon and Black progressive Syrita Steib. 

Following this resolution, some people like Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) member Attorney Michael Adams, lined up to speak out against the resolution. 

“The recommendation came for Gary Chambers. He’s a good man, he’s a qualified candidate, and it’s our job to accept or reject it….give me the opportunity to accept Gary Chambers as being our candidate that we’re endorsing,” Attorney Adams said.

For this resolution, Chair Katie Bernhardt suspended the usual requirements that resolutions be presented five days in advance. Despite it being initially denied by the Resolution Committee in a 5-2 decision, the resolution was later accepted in an 80-36 vote. 

Chambers has called out Party Chairwoman Katie Bernhardt for changing the rules in the middle of proceedings to prevent him from securing the endorsement and becoming the sole candidate.

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In a tweet, Chambers also says that there were 40 proxy votes added by Bernhardt that made up the final vote count deliberately put in to vote against him and that they were never explained or accounted for. In a Youtube video Chambers said, “She never verified the proxies when we asked…she never let us participate to verify our proxies…to find out if our proxies were allocated for.” 

Chair Bernhardt has yet to respond to questions about the proxy votes. 

Gary Chambers Jr., from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been a social activist and community organizer running as a Democrat to become the first Black U.S. Senator for Louisiana. Chambers is a staunch prorgressive and has not been afraid to be bold in campaign ads, whether it be burning the confederate flag, or advocating for legalization of marijuana while smoking. This is why some, such as Jo Von McCalester, a professor of political science and African American studies at Howard University, believe the DCC decided against solely endorsing him.

“He doesn’t necessarily fit their bill. He doesn’t check off their boxes,” Prof. McCalester stated about Chambers’s candidacy. For many months, Chambers has been considered the favorite to challenge the U.S. Republican Louisiana Senator and incumbent John Kennedy ahead of the midterms. 

“Gary Chambers earned the endorsement,’’ said Belinda Parker, DSCC member. 

The events that took place have sparked outrage among many on social media. Comments on the Louisiana Democratic Party’s Instagram page include “Katie must go,” and “RESIGN.” 

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The Senate race now heads to Nov. 8 in a “jungle primary,” meaning that all of the candidates will be on the ballot and if no candidate reaches 50% then the top two candidates go to a runoff. 

“Know this….I’m still the Democrat that’s going to beat John Kennedy in November,” Chambers  tweeted.

Chambers, Mixon, Chair Bernhardt nor the Louisiana Democratic Party immediately responded to requests for comment.

Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett

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