Christopher Tidmore-New Orleans Elections

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:43

Louisiana US Senate race: Boustany, Campbell, Fleming, Kennedy, Fayard lead pack

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flemingWith 24 candidates on the ballot in Louisiana, the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the Republican incumbent David Vitter is wide open. A new poll released by the campaign of Republican Congressman John Fleming shows that the early lead held by Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy has now evaporated. 

The poll, conducted by JMC Analytics, demonstrates essentially a five candidate log jam at the top with Republican Congressman Charles Boustany and Democrat Public Service Commission Foster Campbell tied for first with 15% of the vote, followed by Fleming at 14%, Democrat attorney Caroline Fayard at 12% and Kennedy at 11% support. The poll also showed retired Air Force Colonel Rob Maness at 4% support and David Duke at 3%, both Republicans, followed by a smattering of support for the other 17 candidates. 

Although Fleming’s opponents discounted the poll, it does mirror to some degree the recent Southern Media and Opinion Research survey which also showed a tight race. In that poll, Kennedy was at the top with 17% support, followed closely by Boustany at 15%. Three other candidates were slightly behind: Fayard at 11%, Campbell at 9% and Fleming at 8%. 

These five top candidates will be included in an October 18 CABL/LPB statewide debate. Of course, the candidates not included are upset, including Col. Maness who characterized the race as “Three lifetime, consummate politicians running against one outsider who has leadership skills with three decades of leadership experience to get people to the table and get the job done.” 

In the last few weeks of the race, the interest of voters will intensify as the major candidates begin to bombard the airwaves. While Kennedy has conserved his resources, Fleming was the first candidate who really made a major impact with a significant media campaign. Surely, it is one reason why Fleming’s poll numbers increased so dramatically. Thereafter, Congressman Boustany and a political action committee supporting Col. Maness have also begun to make substantial media buys. 

As this election continues, the candidates’ view of the presidential race will also become more widely known. Statewide polls show that GOP nominee Donald Trump is leading Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin, anywhere from 10 to 17 percentage points. It will be quite interesting to see how the Democrat candidates, Fayard and Campbell, deal with the political albatross of Hillary Clinton. 

They will try to distance themselves somewhat, but not too much, from Clinton.  They will need the enthusiastic support of minority voters and other solid Democrat Party voters to make the run-off; however, in a two person showdown with a Republican, they will have to dramatically expand their base of voters to have any chance of victory. 

It worked in 2015 for Governor John Bel Edwards, who emphasized his military background and strong pro-life credentials, while highlighting his opponent’s ties to a prostitution scandal. 

Such an unusual scenario is the only way for a Democrat to win a statewide election in Louisiana today. It remains to be seen whether the stars will be perfectly aligned for Louisiana Democrats once again.

 

Jeff Crouere

Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]

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