Gloves come off in House District 99 race, where politico faces pastor _lowres

Jimmy Harris

Attorney Jimmy Harris and the Rev. Ray Crawford are headed to a Nov. 21 runoff for the House District 99 seat.

Harris, 41, captured 47 percent of the vote in Saturday’s primary, with all 44 precincts reporting. Crawford, 57, gained 31 percent, while the third candidate, 24-year-old Markeita Prevost, received only 24 percent.

The numbers indicate that Crawford, who lost his ballot space to a residency challenge but regained it after appeal, breathed just enough life into his restored campaign to woo voters.

And while Crawford and Prevost both dismissed Harris as a well-funded cog in U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond’s political machine, it was apparently Crawford who was best able to use that narrative to gain votes at polls. Harris is an aide in Richmond’s office.

Prevost also may have suffered from Harris’ thinly veiled jabs at her voting record, accusations which prompted The New Orleans Advocate to request records for her and 74 other legislative candidates. Before Saturday’s election, she and her sister, House District 97 hopeful Misskeith Prevost, had never cast a vote. They said it was because previous office-holders were uninspiring. Crawford, too, voted less often than Harris -- but still more than Prevost.

Harris, for his part, scoffs at Crawford’s attack on his connections and insists he is independent. If voters choose Harris in November, he will work to attract businesses to the partially redeveloped New Orleans East and 9th Ward, he said. He will do so by pushing for more tax increment financing, a device that uses public tax dollars to subsidize developers’ costs.

If Crawford is elected, he said he will first work rehabilitate his district’s homes and expand Medicaid statewide. And as for the controversial Common Core state standards -- which caused one of the biggest dustups in the legislature last year -- Crawford said he would support whatever standards educators and parents believe will help students excel. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education could make changes to the standards early next year.

Crawford and Harris, both Democrats, compete to represent residents in the Upper and Lower 9th Ward and part of Eastern New Orleans. The seat was last held by State Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, who won a Senate District 4 seat Saturday.

Full New Orleans-area election results available at http://theadvocate.com/elections/state/results/new-orleans.

Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.