Foster Campbell has no chance of winning next month’s U.S. Senate runoff unless he unifies the fractured state Democratic Party, and he took a step in that direction Thursday by holding his first post-primary phone conversation with Caroline Fayard, the Democrat who finished fourth Tuesday and out of the money.
“We will meet to discuss the next steps soon,” Campbell said through a spokeswoman Thursday while Fayard confirmed the conversation and planned meeting in a text but added she didn’t have anything else to say for now.
Reflecting bruised feelings, neither Democrat called the other Tuesday night after the results showed Campbell advancing to the runoff – against the Republican state treasurer, John Kennedy – and Fayard falling short.
The jungle primary grouped Republicans and Democrats alike in a 24-candidate field, but Campbell and Fayard attacked each other during the campaign in the correct belief that only one would remain standing after Tuesday.
Campbell, a farmer and insurance agency owner in Bossier Parish who regulates utilities as a member of the Public Service Commission, needs a unified Democratic Party because Louisiana’s electorate leans conservative on social and economic issues and more often than not elects Republicans in state elections. Gov. John Bel Edwards is the only statewide Democrat in Louisiana.
Political pros call Kennedy the clear favorite in the Dec. 10 runoff election because of inherent advantages. About 60 percent of voters in the primary voted for one of the Republican candidates while only about 36 percent voted for a Democrat.
John Kennedy and Foster Campbell began a one-month sprint Wednesday in the winner-takes-all …
Kennedy led the field with 25 percent of the vote while Campbell got 17 percent.
The state and national Republican parties want to make sure Kennedy does not lose.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is opening 10 offices throughout Louisiana to promote the candidacy of Kennedy and at least two other Republicans competing in Dec. 10 runoffs, said Jason Doré, who is executive director of the Louisiana GOP.
State Rep. Mike Johnson of Shreveport is running against Marshall Jones, a Democrat, to represent northwest Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Sen. Bodi White is running against Sharon Weston to be mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish.
Two Republicans are facing off in the runoff to represent Acadiana and the coastal parishes in the U.S. House.
“We want to make sure we get our people out to vote,” Doré said in an interview.
In an interview Wednesday, Kennedy said he was getting calls from Republican senators offering to assist his campaign. In the 2014 Senate race, Republican volunteers flooded Louisiana during the runoff to help Bill Cassidy defeat the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Mary Landrieu.
For the rest of the country, the fact that there could soon be another Senator Kennedy is bo…
Mary-Patricia Wray, Campbell’s spokeswoman, said offers of support are pouring in to their campaign.
“We’re building the team,” said Stephen Handwerk, the state Democratic Party’s executive director before adding, “We haven’t finalized any plans yet.”
The winner will replace Sen. David Vitter, who chose not to seek re-election after getting battered during last year’s governor’s race. Vitter, who had a 56 percent unfavorable rating in a recent poll, has endorsed Kennedy.
The Campbell campaign Thursday sought to use Vitter to pull down Kennedy, calling Vitter “a morally bankrupt U.S. Senator who could barely pass a bill during his time in the Senate.”
Meanwhile, both candidates agreed to two debates during the runoff but not the same ones. They both agreed to a Dec. 2 event on Nexstar/WVLA in Baton Rouge. But Kennedy also agreed to a Nov. 29 debate at WDSU-TV in New Orleans while Campbell accepted one on Dec. 1 by Louisiana Public Broadcasting. It wasn’t clear Thursday night how they will resolve this.