Alonzo Knox wins slugfest in House District 93 runoff
NEW ORLEANS – A contentious runoff for a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives ended with the second-place finisher in last month’s primary surpassing the frontrunner. Alonzo Knox won the race that mattered Saturday, besting Sibil Fox Richardson with 54% of the vote in the general election between two Democrats.
The runoff settled who gets to complete the remaining term of new state Sen. Royce Duplessis in House District 93. Richardson, who had received endorsements from a city politics who’s who slate, had 37% support in the Feb. 18 primary to Knox’s 31% in a six-person field.
In a sharp turn from the uneventful primary, the general election was rancorous from the start. Richardson, who served time in prison for her role in a botched 1997 bank robbery, was called into question by Voters Organized to Educate (VOTE), an organization that advocates for the incarcerated. The group accused Richardson, a former Navy Reserve member, of stolen valor and obtained records that showed she was convicted of theft at Barksdale Air Force Base 30 years ago.
Richardson accused VOTE of smear tactics, providing paperwork that showed she was honorable discharged from the military. She took aim the reputation of the organization’s leaders, Norris Henderson and Bruce Reilly, calling them “convicted murderers.”
Henderson had his wrongful conviction for a 1977 homicide thrown out in 2003 after he had served 27 years at Angola. Reilly was convicted of second-degree murder as a 19-year-old. He has admitted his guilt, served his sentence and graduated from Tulane Law School since leaving prison.
The irony of the caustic campaign is that Richardson is best known as star of the award-winning documentary “Time,” which details her efforts to get her husband released from prison after the two concocted a failed plan to rob a bank in Grambling. She was also sentenced to prison and now runs Rich Family Ministries with her husband, serving people who have also been in the correctional system.
Richardson’s work on criminal justice reform earned her the backing of Congressman Troy Carter and nearly the entire New Orleans City Council. Duplessis endorsed her, along with New Orleans state Reps. Delisha Boyd and Jason Hughes.
Knox had the support of Orleans Parish Sheriff Susan Hutson and former City Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson.
Campaign finance records show Knox raised $26,000 for his campaign, compared with $90,000 for Richardson.
VOTE spent $18,000 on mailers on Knox’s behalf. The group authored a guest opinion in Big Easy Magazine that referenced an $82,000 court judgment last year against Richardson in a lawsuit from an auto finance lender. VOTE also pointed out Rich Family Ministries would not provide a copy of its income tax return for 2021, and that three of its board members were unaware they held those positions.
A U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, Knox was on the Washington, D.C., staff of former U.S. Sen. John Breaux. He holds an appointed seat the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission and was the program officer for the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation.
Knox and his wife, Jessica, own Backatown Coffee Parlor on Basin Street, where Treme meets the French Quarter.
Correction: This story was updated to indicate where VOTE detailed information about Richardson’s unpaid auto loan and Rich Families Ministries’ tax return status.