Leslie Turk

Boustany won't commit to KLFY debate

by Leslie Turk

KLFY-TV10 News Director Dwight Dugas is patiently waiting to hear back from U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany's campaign so the station can finalize what's scheduled to be the district's only live televised debate between the incumbent and his challenger, Democratic state Sen. Donald Cravins Jr. After receiving a request about a month ago from Cravins' campaign to host a debate, the station contacted Boustany's campaign, which Dugas says was "gung ho" at the time.

The Boustany campaign, however, appears to have had a change of heart. The first date Dugas proposed -- Monday, Oct. 20, in the Clifton Chenier auditorium -- didn't work for the congressman because he has a prior commitment with Acadia Parish's Citizens for Good Government. The station and the Boustany camp have yet to settle on a date, despite KLFY bending over backwards to accommodate Boustany. "I offered to them to give me a date between now and election day," Dugas told The INDsider Friday. "I gave them everything I had, and we still can't come up with anything." Dugas is adamant that the candidates owe it to their constituents to explain why they are best suited for the job, and he feels an obligation to do his part by bringing the debate into the households of the station's audience -- which spans the 7th Congressional District. "I'm not sure why someone would turn down an hour to talk about their campaign," Dugas says. "Right now, I'm waiting for a call." As of this morning, KLFY was still waiting.

The INDsider's e-mail request to the Boustany campaign seeking the status of the proposed televised debate was not answered by press time. The Constitution Party's Peter Vidrine is also challenging Boustany.

One option KLFY may have is to film a debate UL is hosting Oct. 22 in the Student Union's Bayou Bijou, but details for that are still pending. "If I'm going to go through that type of effort, I'd like to do it live myself," Dugas says.

The UL debate, which is being organized by political science professors Pearson Cross and Ryan Teten, is also sponsored by the College Democrats, College Republicans and the American Democracy Project. Cross says the event is open to the media and that he hopes to finalize the details later today.

The first face-off for the 7th Congressional District is set for this Wednesday at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury building in Lake Charles. The League of Women Voters in Lake Charles is sponsoring the 6-7 p.m. debate, which will be broadcast on the government-access channel there. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, the candidates will debate at noon at Opelousas' Indian Hills Country Club.