Indianapolis - Andre Carson has won the 7th Congressional District special election.
With 100 percent of the vote counted, Carson won the election with 54% of the vote compared to Republican Jon Elrod's 43%. Libertarian candidate Sean Shepard collected 2,419 votes (3%). Only about 18% of registered voters turned out for the election.
"This is not about me, it's about you. I'm not going to Congress, we're going to Congress!" Carson said in his acceptance speech. "The voters have spoken, they want unity. We will make each other proud. It is not about me, it is about us."
Carson will fill the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives left by his grandmother Julia Carson, who passed away on December 15. Once the election is certified, Carson will be sworn in to represent the 7th District, which covers most of Marion County, for the rest of the year. He will, however, face a challenge in the May primary to select a candidate to run for the seat permanently in the November election.
"Unfortunately, within two months, he is, as an incumbent congressman, going to face a primary challenge from three other Democrats, two other African-Americans and David Orentlicher, who is a state representative," said Eyewitness News political analyst Peter Rusthoven. "It is going to be very, very difficult for him to survive that primary, particularly with three different African-American candidates splitting the African-American vote to some degree."
Democrats across the state and nation offered congratulations to Carson following his victory.
"Andre ran a great campaign that focused on reaching out to every neighborhood and sharing his message of change," Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker said in a statement. "He'll make a great Congressman because his ideas and vision align with the values of 7th District voters."
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama also congratulated Carson in a released statement.
"I congratulate Andre Carson on winning a hard-fought race. I know Andre, like his grandmother, the late Congresswoman Julia Carson, will be a tireless fighter for Indiana's working men and women," Senator Obama said.
Carson told the Associated Press that Senator Hillary Clinton, who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination, called him to congratulate him on his win. She issued a statement Wednesday:
"I congratulate Andre Carson on a hard-fought victory. He won yesterday on the strength of a positive agenda for the working families of Indianapolis and the nation. I know he will continue the important work of his grandmother Julia, who was such a powerful advocate in Congress for the voiceless in our society."
Elrod will run again for the seat in the May Republican primary.
Carson, whose grandmother raised him in a Baptist church, converted to Islam more than a decade ago and will join Representative Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, as the only Muslims in Congress. His religious identity has drawn little attention during the campaign, and Carson says he doesn't believe it hurts him politically.
The 7th District is predominantly Democratic and Carson had a large fundraising advantage over Elrod, along with more than $150,000 in spending by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Carson's behalf. Carson said early on he believed his campaign's television advertising, mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts would be effective.
Carson has been a member of Indianapolis City-County Council since August. Elrod is a first-term state representative, winning election in 2006 by eight votes over a five-term Democratic incumbent.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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