Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne on Friday challenged opponent Billy Nungesser’s claims to be a job creator and the “real fiscal conservative” in the race.

Unemployment has gone up 44 percent in Plaquemines Parish since Nungesser became its president, Dardenne said.

In addition, Dardenne said, there are tax liens of more than $100,000 on property in which Nungesser has a financial interest. He also accused Nungesser of financially benefiting from the BP Gulf oil disaster.

Dardenne stepped up the attack on Nungesser during a Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge gathering.

Nungesser was a no-show.

The meeting had been scheduled as a lieutenant governor’s forum. But Nungesser backed out late Thursday.

Club Vice President Harold LaCour said the group had changed its usual Thursday meeting date to accommodate Nungesser.

Nungesser did not respond to a message left on his cellphone Friday night seeking comment on Dardenne’s remarks.

Nungesser has previously denied allegations that he personally profited from dealing with BP. Plaquemines Parish has been hard hit in recent years by hurricanes and the BP oil discharge.

Dardenne and Nungesser, both Republicans, go head-to-head on the Oct. 22 election ballot for the No. 2 job in state government.

Dardenne, a former state senator and secretary of state, won a special election last year to fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office. Democrat Mitch Landrieu left the job after being elected mayor of New Orleans.

Nungesser became the television face of the BP Gulf oil disaster, appearing frequently on national newscasts blasting BP and the federal government’s response.

During his Pachyderm speech, Dardenne talked about what he has done in the 10 months since he taking office.

Dardenne said tourism jobs have increased by 5 percent. He said he put extra emphasis on tourism.

He said he saved $130,000 a year by personally taking over the role of administrator of the Office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

Dardenne noted that he saved the state $6 million by waiting to take office to avoid a costly special election.

Dardenne said his vision for the future includes:

• Making Louisiana’s tourism website among the top 10 visited in the U.S.

• Expanding promotion of Louisiana “adventure travel.”

• Using the state’s Bicentennial Celebration to promote Louisiana as a place people want to live and do business.

The Nungesser campaign offered to send its general consultant Kent Gates to speak but the Pachyderms rejected the offer, LaCour said.