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Downballot Derby: Rep. Jefferson To Run Again

Democratic Rep. William Jefferson, who became famous for an FBI investigation which found $90,000 cash in his freezer in 2005, announced this week that he would run for re-election in his New Orleans district.

Jefferson is running again despite the fact that he faces a public corruption trial in December. Last year, he was indicted on charges of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to broker business deals in Africa.

"The fact that I am the target of an overly zealous prosecution has not prevented my delivering for our district and our state," Jefferson said in a statement. "My family and I have sworn a great oath to trust God and to fight on to vindicate ourselves and our good name. This we will do."

Jefferson, who is seeking his 10th term representing the state's second district, won reelection in 2006 with 57 percent of the vote in a runoff. That election came before the 16-count June 2007 indictment, but the investigation was ongoing and well-known by then, and Democrats had already stripped him of his committee posts.

In addition, his indictment is also not the only court proceeding hanging over Jefferson's family. This week, his sister Brenda Jefferson pleaded guilty to charges related to a case that accuses several family members of skimming money from charitable groups.

Brenda Jefferson pleaded guilty to knowing about the scheme, which allegedly involves her sister, brother and a niece (but not Rep. Jefferson). She is the first member of the family, five of whom have been charged with federal crimes in the past year, to admit guilt, reports The Times-Picayune in New Orleans.

So far, one challenger already announced he will run against Rep. Jefferson –- one-time ally Democratic State Rep. Cedric Richmond, who backed Jefferson in his 2006 re-election bid.

S.C. Senate: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham now has a Democratic challenger. A recount of Democratic ballots completed this week showed that engineer Bob Conley defeated lawyer Michael Cone by 1,058 votes out of more than 147,000 ballots cast in the June 10 primary. Conley says he is a former Republican who voted for Ron Paul in the presidential primary, reports the Associated Press.

Graham, who easily won his primary last week, will be heavily favored to win in the fall as well. He reported having $4.5 million cash on hand at the end of May, compared to $961 for Conley.

Maryland 4th District: On Tuesday, there was a special election in Maryland's 4th district, in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. As expected, Democrat Donna F. Edwards, a lawyer and nonprofit executive, cruised to victory over Republican Peter James, and will be the first black woman selected to serve Maryland in Congress. Edwards will serve the reminder of the term started by former eight-term Rep. Albert R. Wynn, who resigned in May after Edwards defeated him in the Democratic primary in February for the fall election. Edwards won with over 80 percent of the vote this time in the heavily Democratic district and is expected to win again over James in November for the right to serve a full two-year term.

Georgia 12th District: Democratic Rep. John Barrow has gotten a key endorsement in his primary fight against state lawmaker Regina Thomas – Barack Obama. The presumptive nominee has recorded a 60 second radio ad for the incumbent congressman, which is unusual because party leaders tend not to get involved in primary races. It was also unexpected because Barrow is a white Democrat who supports the Iraq War and President Bush's tax cuts. Barrow did endorse Obama in late February, but with this endorsement Obama runs the risk of alienating the liberal wings of the party and black voters in the district. Thomas is the first black challenger to face the two-term congressman from the district that is 42 percent black. The primary is July 15 in the Eastern Georgia district that includes Savannah and Augusta.

Indiana 7th District: Republican Jon Elrod has dropped out his congressional race with Democratic Rep. Andre Carson in a district that covers most of Indianapolis. Carson won the seat in a March special election over Elrod, but both were expected to face off again in November. Elrod instead plans to run for reelection to his seat in the state legislature, and Republican officials are planning on finding a replacement candidate.

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