Trial, re-election bid face Rep. Jefferson

Nov. 11, 2008 at 1:08 PM
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NEW ORLEANS, N.Y., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., took a win in a Democratic primary runoff to keep his U.S. House seat as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges.

His party's presidential win Election Day has sparked debate between those who think Jefferson's victory is a blemish on Louisiana politics and others who say he's what they need in Washington. USA Today reported Tuesday.

"There's a mixture of incredibility, a mixture of embarrassment," said Rob Couhig, a Republican New Orleans attorney who ran for mayor in 2004. "There's also a resignation that this is the way it is."

Jefferson, the first black Louisiana congressman since Reconstruction, is charged in a 16-count federal indictment with bribery, racketeering and money-laundering. He has denied the charges and maintained he did nothing wrong.

Jefferson's trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 2 in Virginia. His re-election bid is Dec. 6.

He is expected to win in the heavily Democratic district, but a trial could lead to complications, USA Today said. If he's found guilty and removed from the House, a special election must be conducted to fill his seat, the Louisiana Secretary of State's office said.

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