Boustany all but in for ’16 Senate race

by Walter Pierce

The Lafayette congressman’s office sent out a press release saying he would make an announcement in the coming weeks. But the wording of the release all but ensures his entry.

Boustany, foreground, and Vitter
Photo by Robin May

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, has for all intents and purposes announced that he will be a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated next year by Sen. David Vitter, who announced to a stunned gathering of supporters as he conceded the gubernatorial election Saturday night that he will not seek re-election to Congress’ upper chamber.

Boustany’s office sent out a press release saying that the four-term congressman would make an announcement in the coming weeks. But the wording of the release — “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.” — all but ensures his entry into the race.

At this early juncture it’s fair to say Boustany will compete against U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Rob Maness, the ultra-conservative retired Air Force colonel who made an independent bid for Senate last year in the race won by Bill Cassidy. Fleming, too, is a Tea Party favorite from North Louisiana who is likely to compete with Maness for that voting block, opening a door for the more moderate Boustany, a retired physician.

Both Boustany and Fleming enthusiastically endorsed Vitter in Saturday’s gubernatorial election, and had Vitter won he would have been in the position in January of appointed someone to fill his unexpired term through the end of 2016 — an appointment that, had it gone to either Louisiana congressman, could have all but assured each’s election to a full, six-year term in the Senate.

On the Democratic side, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s name has often been floated as a possible candidate.