Congressional candidate Claston Bernard kicks off campaign in Donaldsonville

Michael Tortorich
Claston Bernard greets attendees prior to speaking at Crescent Park in Donaldsonville Feb. 19.

Gonzales resident Claston Bernard, a Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District special election set for March 20, launched his campaign Feb. 19 at Crescent Park in Donaldsonville.

The Louisiana Republican Party has endorsed Bernard in the race to replace New Orleans Democrat Cedric Richmond, who resigned in November 2020 to work as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden. 

Richmond has endorsed Democratic state Sen. Troy Carter of New Orleans. Early in the new year, he reportedly held the edge in fundraising.

Leading Democrats in the race include former Louisiana Democratic Party Chair and state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans, and Gary Chambers, a Baton Rouge activist endorsed by well-known figures such as activist Shaun King and The Young Turks creator Cenk Uygur. A total of 15 candidates of varying affiliations are vying for the seat.

The district winds from Orleans Parish through the River Parishes to the northern part of East Baton Rouge Parish near Baker. A majority Black district, nearly two-thirds of voters are registered as Democrats.

Claston Bernard poses with his family in front of his campaign bus at Crescent Park in Donaldsonville Feb. 19.

The 41-year-old Bernard arrived in a chartered bus with his family, which included his wife, Quantez, and his two daughters. Owner of a home inspection business and an author, he previously ran for Gonzales City Council.

Republican state party Chair Louis Gurvich, party Vice Chair and state Rep. Beryl Amedee of Houma, and state Rep. Kathy Edmonston of Gonzales were among the speakers at the park overlooking the Mississippi River levee. His wife also spoke, recalling times of her younger years in Donaldsonville.

Jeff Crouere, host of Ringside Politics on WGSO-AM in New Orleans, introduced Bernard.

“The problems in the 2nd Congressional District have only gotten worse,” Crouere said. “We’re the fourth poorest district in the nation. We’ve got crumbling streets, horrible infrastructure, poverty, drugs, crime through the roof, schools are dilapidated, and people are dispirited. They need jobs and opportunity.”

Bernard touted the importance of family and education, and denounced socialism and Marxism.

“When I see Black Americans, I see Americans. When I see White Americans, I see Americans. when I see Native Americans, I see Americans. We are one people with one goal,” Bernard said.

He recalled his journey to LSU as an immigrant with just $300 in his pocket. 

“I became a champion in Louisiana because of the resources we have. We have greatness in this state,” Bernard said.

He pointed out the rich tourism in the state, including sites around Donaldsonville.

“My wife and her mother used to walk to the library down the street to spend time. Those moments matter. Those intimate moments matter. We have to do that once more,” Bernard said.