In Louisiana’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race, five longshot contenders have gotten little notice even in their own state.
Democrats William P. Waymire Jr., of Gonzales, Wayne Ables, of Breaux Bridge, and Vallian Senegal, of Opelousas, will be on the Nov. 4 ballot in a bid to unseat incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu.
So will Republican Thomas Clements, of Lafayette, and Libertarian Brannon Lee McMorris, of Denham Springs.
None of the five have held political office.
None is spending the kind of dollars thought essential to any serious bid for the U.S. Senate.
And none has grabbed enough support in polls and other measures to win a spot in debates that feature Landrieu and Republicans Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness.
However, all five argue that the federal government is in such dire shape that the times call for a fresh face.
“The process has not been working too well,” said Ables, a theme echoed in various ways by all five longshot contenders.
A runoff will be held between the top two finishers on Dec. 6, unless any of the eight candidates on the ballot gain at least 50 percent of the vote, plus one.
Waymire, 56, a retired U. S. Marine, is pushing an eight-point campaign plank that includes closing the U.S. departments of education, health and human services, housing and urban development and the Environmental Protection Agency as part of a bid to trim the size and influence of the federal government.
“I am a Democrat but I am conservative,” he said.
Waymire is also opposed to Common Core, favors giving school districts the option of having morning prayer and wants to trim congressional salaries by $50,000 per year, to about $125,000.
He calls global warming “political hogwash.”
Waymire said he expects to spend about $5,000 on his campaign.
Ables, 64, an offshore worker, said his key goal is to provide every state in the nation with $1 billion to launch a major manufacturing project.
“We give about $50 billion per year to countries that hate us,” the Democrat said. “We need people to stand up for America.”
Ables said he has spent about $15,000 on his Senate bid.
“I appreciate every interview that I get to give,” he said. “I just hope that people somewhere will catch on to these ideas and use them and work with them.”
Senegal, 30, is the lone black candidate in the U. S. Senate contest.
She is a regional coordinator for implementation of the Affordable Care Act — sometimes called “Obamacare” — which means she helps with enrollment and other issues that stem from the federal health care overhaul.
Senegal said she joined the Senate contest “to bring the voice of Louisiana back to Washington, D.C.
“Our constituents feel they have been left out,” she said. “I am answering their call to serve.”
Landrieu, as she has done in previous elections, is banking on heavy support among black voters to help her win a fourth term.
Senegal said some black voters are disenchanted with her fellow Democrat Landrieu.
“They feel used, that she has not done anything for the African-American community,” she said.
Senegal said one of her top issues is ensuring the solvency of Social Security.
“The public fears that they are going to be stripped of their pension,” she said. “People have this extreme fear.”
Senegal said she also favors “closing our borders and stop spending all of our money overseas and taking care of people in foreign countries.
“I feel we should take care of home first,” she said.
Senegal said she plans to spend less than $5,000 on her campaign.
Republican Thomas Clements has a simple philosophy.
“I believe in hard work and perseverance and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.
Clements was a machinist for 25 years and became a small business owner six years ago.
“I know what the federal government does on taxes, regulation,” he said. “They are constantly putting barricades for job creation.”
“I feel like the top three are in the government sector, and I am from the private sector,” he said of Landrieu, Cassidy and Maness.
Clements, 46, said he plans to spend about $15,000 in the race.
McMorris, a Libertarian, said he and his wife have put about 45,000 miles on their vehicles traveling around the state for the past year.
“I am running because I don’t think there are any public servants in Washington anymore,” he said. “They are party servants, really.”
McMorris, who is an electrical engineer, said his chief concern is the nation’s debt.
He said he favors fewer regulations on small firms, cuts in military spending and less intervention in other nations.
McMorris said he plans to spend about $30,000 on the campaign, with about $10,000 coming from donations.
“That is what I love to do, talk to the people one on one,” he said. “People have been very receptive.”
Follow Will Sentell on Twitter @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.