U.S. Senate forum previews campaign themes

by Jeremy Alford, LaPolitics

It offered an early preview of what the leading candidates will be talking about on the campaign trail and which ones are likely to bump heads first.

U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, speaks at the Senate forum.

The Police Jury Association hosted a U.S. Senate forum earlier this month and it offered an early preview of what the leading candidates will be talking about on the campaign trail and which ones are likely to bump heads first.

On the Democratic side, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell stuck to the issues he’s best known for, with a renewed focus on tackling poverty by raising the minimum wage and promising to make policy through the prism of low- and moderate-income families.

He called for oil companies to start paying more of a fair share and criticized “tap-dancing politicians.” He also mentioned that Gov. John Bel Edwards asked him to run.

“I’m glad he has and I’m taking him up on it,” Campbell said, later adding, “If you don’t vote for me you’re going to be making a hell of a mistake.”

Denham Springs attorney Caroline Fayard told the crowd she is indeed a Democrat, but one that is pro-life and pro-gun. She said she’s “not a liberal, nor a socialist,” but rather a “happy capitalist” who “loves America.”

She stressed her business background and was critical of “people who keep running” for office.

Fayard also debuted what might be a running tagline: “I’m a workhorse, not a show pony.”

On the Republican side, Treasurer John Kennedy said he’s trying to “take our country back” from the “political elite in Washington, D.C.” He spoke about being a champion of the middle class and hit his usual fiscal hawk notes.

Congressman Charles Boustany shared his family background and said he was “furious” about the direction of the country. The frustrations of voters was a recurring theme in his speech.

He also discussed his focus on reforming the Internal Revenue Service and fighting Obamacare as a congressman. Veterans issues were hit upon as well.

Congressman John Fleming said he doesn’t know who he will vote for in the presidential race, but he’ll likely gravitate toward the candidate who promises the least.

He attempted to strike an anti-establishment chord.

“I’m fed up with my own party,” he said before explaining his role with the Freedom Caucus.

He largely hit upon issues, like welfare, repealing Obamacare and entitlements, that position him to the right of the field.

Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness is staking out the same ground. He told the crowd he believes in individual responsibility and limited government, then pulled a small copy of the Constitution out of his pocket.

Describing himself as “the outsider,” Maness vowed to work as a senator to strengthen America’s military and further secure the border.

Former Congressman Joseph Cao, a Republican of New Orleans, and former legislator Troy Hebert, who would run with no party affiliation, are expected to compete as well, but did not participate in the forum.