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Eight of the 24 U. S. Senate candidates appear during a forum sponsored by the La. Association of Health Plans at the Country Club of Louisiana on Wednesday August 3, 2016. From left, Charles Boustany, Foster Campbell, Joseph Cao, Caroline Fayard, moderator Chuck Kleckley, John Fleming, Troy Hebert, John Kennedy and Joshua Pellerin.

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG

Five candidates in the crowded race for Louisiana's open U.S. Senate seat have been invited to take part in a debate hosted by the Council for a Better Louisiana ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Of the 24 candidates on the ballot, Republicans U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, Public Service U.S. Rep. John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy and Democrats Commission Foster Campbell and attorney Caroline Fayard met the criteria needed to receive invitations. Benchmarks included campaign organization, polling and fundraising markers.

The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and will air on Louisiana Public Broadcasting channels across the state.

Here's the official criteria CABL says it used to winnow the field down to five:

  • Have established a campaign committee with a treasurer and campaign staff, and filed campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission prior to the debate AND
  • Polled at least 5% in a nonpartisan or news media poll recognized by CABL released after qualifying AND
  • Raised at least $1 million in campaign funds prior to the debate. Since the next deadline for campaign finance filing is not until October 15, candidates who meet the polling criteria and send CABL an affidavit certified by an official with the campaign that they have raised the required campaign contributions will be invited to participate pending the filing of the official report.

Candidates who didn't make the cut include retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness, former Congressman Joseph Cao and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, all Republicans.

The election is to replace U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican who isn't seeking re-election. A runoff will take place on Dec. 10 if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in November.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.