Posted: June 17, 2013


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

Whoever wrote the suspicious-looking letter to Karen Peterson, the Democratic state senator from Stanton, sent it to her home.

The return address simply read "JA" from Lafayette, the Cajun city in Louisiana, and Peterson was dubious about opening the envelope. Not that it was entirely odd she would be getting mail from outside Delaware, not after she had become something of a national figure last month by coming out during the debate on gay marriage.

Peterson opened the letter. It did not explode. It was not contaminated with anthrax or ricin.

It was just old-fashioned hate mail in all its cartoonish glory, like the mayor of Whoville could have received from the Grinch.

It began, "Dear Ms. Peterson, I will not address you otherwise because I don't think you deserve it."

The letter was about Obamacare. It was written in rage, not to mention erratic capitalization.

"How DARE you even get up there and spout this ridiculous notion that just because we do not want the Obamacare as directed that we don't want reform. . . . If things don't go your way you scream, 'RACIST!'" it read.

"I AM JUDGING BY THE OBAMACARE CONTENT, NOT BY THE LEADER!! It's all about white or black with you idiots. . . . You are a bigot."

Where letters customarily conclude with a complimentary closing, this one signed off, "Get a grip. Get out of office or clean up your act."

Peterson has spoken forcefully on all sorts of controversial matters, not just gay marriage, but also in favor of repealing the death penalty and holding the Catholic Church accountable for sex abuse by priests. But Obamacare?

It did not make sense, until Peterson realized the letter writer had misdirected it.

There are two state senators named Karen Peterson, and the other one is Karen Carter Peterson, a New Orleans Democrat in the Louisiana legislature in the letter writer's home state.

The other Peterson, who goes by Carter Peterson, is a lawyer who became a state senator through a special election in 2010 after a decade as a state representative. She is also the chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

It looks like neither Karen Peterson is afraid to speak out.

Not long after Peterson here spoke about gay marriage, Carter Peterson there declared the opposition to Obamacare "comes down to the race of the President," and the Lousiana Republicans, including Governor Bobby Jindal, slammed her for it.

"Not only do you get your own hate mail . . . " Peterson quipped.

Peterson called Carter Peterson's office to compare notes and spoke to an aide there, and they had a lively conversation. Called for comment, Carter Peterson's office declined to talk Monday but not without offering a verbal wink.

Peterson said the aide knew all about her when she called. He told her, "We got a lot of e-mails congratulating us on marriage equality."