Ms. Peterson’s best applause line, though, might also reflect her best chance to prevail.
“There’s never been an African-American woman to serve, in the history of Louisiana, in Washington in the federal delegation,” she said. “When women aren’t at the table, we’re usually on the menu.”
At a moment when Black women want to see more of their counterparts in positions of power — a view much of the Democratic base shares as Black women run this year in high-profile elections in places like New York City, Virginia and Ohio — the message plainly resonated.
“I’m all for women right now, we just need representation,” said Angela Steib, a Donaldsonville resident who attended the get-together.
For his part, Mr. Carter is quick to highlight his support from an array of local female leaders, including the New Orleans City Council president, Helena Moreno — and to intimate that he would be more effective in Washington than Ms. Peterson because of what she acknowledges is her hard-charging approach.
“We have a very different style,” he said.
Philosophically, the two have not been that far apart in the past. But Ms. Peterson has sought to outflank Mr. Carter on the left in this race, portraying herself as an insurgent even as she trumpets her service as a former state chair and her roster of endorsements, which include the backing of Stacey Abrams and Emily’s List, the group that supports women who are in favor of abortion rights.
Asked to describe her style of politics, though, she avoided an ideological label, instead calling herself “responsive” and “honest.” Mr. Carter said, “I am center-left.”
In a sleepy spring special election, though, the winner may be determined by which of the two leading candidates has a stronger organization. Both have a long history in local office, both have sought this seat in the past and they have been competitive financially, although Emily’s List has given Ms. Peterson third-party help that Mr. Carter lacks on the airwaves.