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State Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, said Monday he will not run for the congressional post being vacated by U. S. Rep. Cedric Richmond.

State Sen. Cleo Fields, D-Baton Rouge, said Monday he has opted against running for the congressional seat that U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond is giving up.

"Over the past few months many friends and supporters have encouraged me to return to Congress; however I have decided not to run for Congress," Fields said in a statement.

"Serving the people of the 14th senatorial district is my primary responsibility and I am committed to giving my full attention and focus to that task during this difficult time in our state and nation," he said.

Fields, 58, in January began his third term as state senator representing neighborhoods in north Baton Rouge, downtown, and Gardere, including Southern University and LSU. He was congressman representing the newly redrawn 4th Congressional District  from 1993 to 1997. He ran for governor in 1995 losing to Republican Gov. Mike Foster in the runoff.

He ran for another term in the state Senate again in 1997 and served until 2007, when he was forced out by term limits. In 2019, Fields challenged state Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, and won another term. Fields chairs the Senate Education Committee.

The 2nd Congressional District covers parts of 10 parishes including most of New Orleans, a section of Jefferson Parish and extends up the Mississippi River to take in neighborhoods largely in north Baton Rouge. The district was drawn as the state's only one in which minorities are the majority. Of the 530,796 registered voters, 61% are Black and 63% are Democratic. Forty-five percent of the voters live in Orleans Parish and 12% live in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Richmond, a Democrat who lives in New Orleans East, announced on Nov. 17 that he would be leaving Congress to become director of the White House's Office of Public Engagement. He had served as an adviser to President-elect Joe Biden during Biden's successful run for president.

Richmond, a former state lawmaker, first won the congressional seat in 2010. He has won easily in each reelection since, including in November when he scored 64% of the vote against five challengers.

Two New Orleans Democratic state senators – Troy Carter and Karen Carter Peterson – have announced plans to run for the job.

Helena Moreno, an at-large member of the New Orleans City Council, is considered a possible contender and others have also been mentioned.

Gary Chambers, a Baton Rouge community activist and publisher of the online publication called the Rouge Collection, indicated he will get in the race and has a website called chambersforcongress.com.

"Gary is a leading social justice advocate based in Baton Rouge," according to the website. "Gary is running for the open congressional seat in Louisiana's 2nd District."

Chambers ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state Senate in 2019 when he tried to replace state Sen. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge.

He said then that he favored the abolition of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education because he said there was too much money involved in BESE politics. Chambers also said state officials needed to be more aggressive about pursuing economic development.

No election dates have been announced. Gov. John Bel Edwards said he wouldn't set the date until Richmond officially resigns.

But the primary is expected to be March 20, with a runoff in April, if necessary. Those are the dates Edwards set to replace Congressman-elect Luke Letlow, who died unexpectedly last week of complications from COVID-19. Qualifying for the election, in which candidates sign up and pay the fees, will take place Jan. 20th to 22nd.

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.