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Republican U.S. Senate incumbents trying to fight off Democratic challengers

Florida and North Carolina are Senate battlegrounds; Louisiana holds all-party primary for Vitter’s seat

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Nine GOP-held Southern U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in the November 8 election, with Republican incumbents heavily favored in six races.

The exceptions are Florida, where Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is facing off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, and in North Carolina, where the GOP incumbent, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, is facing Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor.

And in Louisiana, 24 candidates are running in an all-party “jungle” primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff, which could potentially decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Pre-election polls have shown Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy in the lead, followed by Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat; Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette; and Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer.

If Kennedy and Boustany can both clear the runoff, the GOP would be guaranteed of keeping the seat, now held by U.S. Senator David Vitter. But if Campbell or Fayard can come through, the December 10 runoff will be the last word on Senate races this year — and, if the Senate is closely divided, decide which party controls the chamber.

In addition to Rubio and Burr, Republican incumbents are seeking re-election in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

All are heavily favored, although the race in Georgia between U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson  and Democratic businessman Jim Barksdale is somewhat more competitive.

In Alabama, Richard Shelby faces Democrat Ron Crumpton, a marijuana rights activist; in Arkansas John Boozman is seeking a second term against Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville; and in Kentucky, Rand Paul is running against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

In Oklahoma,  James Lankford faces Mike Workman, a Tulsa political consultant, and in South Carolina, Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, faces Democrat Thomas Dixon, a Charleston pastor.

Racist David Duke qualifies for Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Debate on November 2 will take place at historically black Dillard University

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — Racist David Duke will take the stage at an historically black university on November 2 to debate with five other Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates, after scoring high enough in a poll to qualify for the event.

State Treasurer John Kennedy

State Treasurer John Kennedy

The poll, commissioned by debate Raycom Media, showed Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell leading a crowded field of 24 candidates vying for the the open Senate seat in the Pelican State’s all-party “jungle” primary.

The top two vote-getters on November 8, regardless of party, will advance to a December 10 runoff.

Duke came in at 5.1 percent in the poll commissioned by Raycom, the sponsor of the debate at Dillard University in New Orleans, which was just above the 5 percent threshold set for candidates to qualify. Raycom confirmed to the Baton Rouge Advocate that, based on those poll results, it would invite Duke to the debate.

Raycom, based in Montgomery, Alabama, plans to air the debate on its television stations in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Shreveport.

Duke celebrated the news in a Tweet, in which he said, “I can’t wait to tell truth nobody else dares!”

Dillard, which rented space for the event to Raycom’s station in New Orleans, WVUE, said in a statement that the university “will work with WVUE to ensure that the event is secure and managed professionally, as it does with every event that occurs on our campus.”

The statement also said that WVUE is the “sole sponsor” of the event and that Dillard “does not endorse the candidacy of any of the candidates who will appear at this debate.”

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell

The poll found Kennedy at 24 percent, followed by Campbell at 19 percent. Three candidates were in a statistical tie for third place: Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer (12 percent), and two sitting GOP U.S. House members, Charles Boustany of Layfayette (11 percent) and John Fleming of Minden (10 percent).

Among those not making the 5-percent cut were Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American Republican who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011, and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

The seat is being vacated by Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, who gave up his Senate seat to make an unsuccessful run for governor in 2015.

Open Louisiana U.S. Senate primary draws 24 candidates

Race will include two sitting members of Congress and white racist David Duke

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — A gaggle of 24 candidates have qualified for the primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, which could play a pivotal role in the battle for Senate control.

The list of those who qualified by the July 22 deadline included three current or former members of Congress, two state officeholders and white supremacist David Duke, who filed to run as a Republican.

In Louisiana, all candidates, regardless of party, run in a Nov. 8 primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December runoff if no one clears 50 percent.

The Louisiana race, then, could become the last and deciding contest for control of the Senate.

In all, nine Republicans filed, along with seven Democrats, two Libertarians and six without a party affiliation.

With so many candidates in the race, the outcome is uncertain. But Democrats hoping to overcome the Pelican State’s Republican tendencies may benefit by having fewer big name candidates in the race to divide their vote.

On the Democratic side, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer, head the field.

Campbell made a losing bid for governor in 2007, while Fayard was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate in a special election for lieutenant governor in 2010.

The Republican side of the ballot is much more crowded. Two sitting U.S. House members–Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden–gave up their seats to pursue the open Senate seat.

Joining them are State Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat who lost Senate races in 2004 and 2008; Joseph Cao, a Vietnamese-American who represented the New Orleans area in Congress from 2009 to 2011; and Rob Maness, who made a spirited but unsuccessful Tea Party-backed bid for the Senate in 2014.

In an announcement video on his website, Duke, making his third try for the Senate, said he was running to represent “European Americans.” He also claimed credit for introducing the phrase “America First” into national politics, which has become a mainstay of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump, and most Americans, embrace most of the issues that I’ve championed for years,” he said.

The Louisiana seat opened up after U.S. Senator David Vitter retired to make an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2015.

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