With the retirement of U.S. Senator David Vitter, the race is on for his open Senate seat. Just 36 hours after his announcement, some candidates are already beginning to stake out their positions.
First up to send out a pre-announcement was U.S. Congressman Charles Boustany:
(Lafayette, LA) – Dr. Charles Boustany, Jr., issued the following statement.
“As a cardiovascular surgeon, I spent nearly thirty years caring for the sick and serving our community. As a United States Congressman, I have achieved the largest legislative repeal of ObamaCare to date, brought two new veterans clinics to Louisiana, stopped congressional leadership from robbing funding for our ports, and led the fight against the Obama Administration’s war on Louisiana energy.
“Louisiana deserves a United States Senator who can lead in times of challenge, offer conservative, workable solutions to complex problems, and bring unity in times of division. After careful deliberation with family and friends, I am planning a formal announcement event in my hometown of Lafayette in the near future. I look forward to outlining my vision for Louisiana and how I intend to help lead our state to the bright future I know lies before us.”
More details on the date and location of Dr. Boustany’s formal announcement event in Lafayette will be made available soon.
This was followed up later today by U.S. Congressman John Fleming:
Shreveport, LA – Congressman John Fleming, M.D., released the following statement ahead of making an official announcement regarding Louisiana’s open Senate seat in 2016:
“Washington faces many challenges these days and today’s United States Senate needs more trusted conservatives going there to make decisions and choices that put the people first and not the business-as-usual crowd.
“Louisiana wants a leader that will take their values to D.C. and will fight for them without wavering. So I am planning a formal announcement in the near future and at that time I will share my goals for Louisiana and our nation, and why I believe the voters are eager to see real, conservative solutions in our nation’s capital.”
Dr. John Fleming represents Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District. He was first elected in 2008, and is now serving his fourth term. He has been a family physician for more than 30 years and is a small businessman who created hundreds of jobs in Louisiana.
The 4th Congressional District includes all of northwest Louisiana, stretching east through Union Parish and south to Beauregard Parish, across to St. Landry Parish.
Likely to join the race along with the two doctors is State Treasurer John Kennedy. He spent $1 million in his reelection race that had more to do with boosting his name recognition and favorables statewide than actually defeating an opponent.
Boustany, Fleming, and Kennedy are likely the top tier candidates in this race. Boustany is the more establishment candidate in the race. He’s expected to court the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups. Fleming, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is expected to be the rock-ribbed conservative in the race. Kennedy is expected to have broad statewide appeal, despite the fact he was defeated by then U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu in 2008 in a year where John McCain won nearly 60% when he carried Louisiana.
There are also strong regional bases for the three men. Boustany will be the Southwest Louisiana candidate, Fleming will be the north Louisiana guy, and Kennedy, although he lives in St. Tammany Parish, will be the Baton Rouge candidate.
But those three are probably not the only three candidates joining the race. Many people expect for U.S. Air Force Colonel Rob Maness, whose Gator PAC had a great runoff election night, to enter the race. Maness, who had an unexpectedly strong showing in the U.S. Senate race in 2014, has been traveling around the state and expanding the network he built in that race. Maness can also count on the fact he serves on the St. Tammany Parish RPEC and has become one of the powers on that group. Maness’s big problem is going to be how will he outconservative John Fleming?
Another possible candidate is Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle. Angelle ran an unexpectedly strong third in the primary in October. If the rain that fell in buckets in Acadiana that day had fallen instead in St. Tammany and Jefferson Parishes, Angelle could’ve made the runoff. Angelle will likely be the grassroots candidate out of Acadiana, building on many of those who supported Jeff Landry in 2012, and he can also count on the support of what’s left of the Jindal machine. Angelle’s problem is that a lot of Republicans are angry at him for not endorsing Vitter in the runoff. Can he overcome that or will he decide it’s just easier to run for Congress?
Finally, this race will likely have a Democrat in it. You have to think that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu makes a run for the seat. He can see an opportunity to consolidate support in metro New Orleans since the rest of the candidates, except Rob Maness, have their regional bases in the rest of the state. Landrieu will have a couple of advantages that his sister didn’t have in 2014: a Democrat governor and the fact Hillary Clinton doesn’t scare Republicans as much as Obama does. Plus, Mitch won’t have his sister’s baggage that came with her three terms in the U.S. Senate. Mitch probably makes the runoff and likely won’t have to spend a lot of money to get there, but can he overcome the fact that Louisiana is still a strongly Republican state?
Strap yourselves in because we have a long year to go.