Politicos, especially her detractors, have speculated that she would step down after this term because of health problems that have forced her to consistently miss votes for a number of years. She has also let her fund- raising slip the past two quarters.
This past week, however, the Democrat made it clear she plans to be on the ballot next year. She did so after her grandson, Andre Carson, declared himself a candidate for a recently vacated seat on the City-County Council.
The congresswoman's critics immediately theorized that she was grooming her grandson to take over her seat when she steps down. He was featured in one of her campaign commercials last year and has spoken in her place at some events.
Carson said she would be active in his campaign because, "I like this kind of stuff, and I like to go out and talk to people about it."
Asked if she hopes to bequeath her seat to Andre eventually, she deferred.
"I haven't got that far up the road yet," she said.
It is now clear Carson intends to hold the seat until she dies. This self-serving attitude will leave voters of the 7th District essentially unrepresented in Congress until she is gone. Local Democrats are too aware of her declining health and the problems they pose for her to ignore this problem. As for any attempt to anoint Andre Carson as her successor, you can count on organized opposition to that effort within the party. There is continued speculation her 2006 GOP opponent, Eric Dickerson, would like to take another crack at her. Other Republicans have suggested Rep. Jon Elrod might run for the seat. Republicans are preparing for the real possibility of a special election brought on by Carson's death as opposed to her retiring at the end of her term.
On that Democratic caucus to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of 15th District Councilor Patrice Abduallah because he didn't live in the district, the outcome on Tuesday night will only determine who holds the seat through the end of Abduallah's term. That's because it's too late for Democrats to put his successor's name on the ballot. Because Republicans nominated no one to run for the seat, only Adbuallah's name will appear on the ballot. Democrats will have to caucus again after the November election to appoint someone to hold the seat for the four-year term. In other words, if Andre Carson is chosen to take the seat at Tuesday night's caucus, he won't be able to win the seat in November in his own right. Some legal experts theorize that Republicans could legally challenge Abduallah's name from appearing on the ballot because his absence from the district dated back to at least January of this year. A successful challenge on that issue would leave it to the newly-elected council to choose a replacement for Abduallah's seat. If Republicans won control of the council, they would get to choose Abduallah's successor. I'm told this legal challenge is unlikely to happen, but it would make things much more interesting.