Political sniping continued Thursday in the lieutenant governor’s race.
Challenger Billy Nungesser couldn’t answer basic questions posed by incumbent Jay Dardenne about the Lieutenant Governor’s Office that he is seeking.
Nungesser accused Dardenne of not devoting full time to the No. 2 job in state government.
Dardenne and Nungesser, who is Plaquemines Parish president, face each other on the Oct. 22 election ballot. Early voting began Oct. 8 and continues through Saturday.
Both Dardenne and Nungesser are Republicans.
Dardenne won a special election last year to become lieutenant governor. He had been elected secretary of state.
The two met in an hourlong, televised forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and three television stations, including WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge.
Dardenne tested Nungesser’s knowledge of lieutenant governor operations, including asking what six agencies are housed in the office and how state tourism efforts are funded in the state budget.
“I don’t have access to all the information you have,” replied Nungesser when asked about tourism funding.
On the six agencies, Nungesser replied: “All of the tourism agencies. I don’t have them all in front of me, and I can’t remember every one of them. It’s anything to do with tourism.”
The six agencies: the Office of Tourism, LaServe, State Museums, State Parks, State Libraries and Arts and Culture.
Tourism funding comes from a fraction of sales taxes.
Nungesser accused Dardenne of practicing law while serving as lieutenant governor. He also criticized Dardenne for getting paid when he gives his “Why Louisiana Ain’t Mississippi” program at various events.
Nungesser said Dardenne shouldn’t do either one.
Dardenne said he didn’t make “a nickel” last year from his law practice.
Dardenne said he developed the Louisiana program six years ago to present at events. He said he would give up the limited outside income, if Nungesser discloses his income from businesses held in trust and gives up the trust income he’ll receive upon leaving office.
The lieutenant governor is first in line of succession to the governor. The candidates were asked what they would do if they became governor.
“We need to think outside the box,” Nungesser said.
Nungesser said a blue ribbon team needs to be put together to look at the budget and the tax structure.
“We have more blue ribbon committees than we know what to do with,” Dardenne said.
Dardenne said he would continue with Gov. Bobby Jindal’s no new taxes policy and his emphasis on higher education and economic development.
Nungesser swiped at Dardenne for being absent during times of coastal disasters. “As an elected official of this state, did you not feel it was your job or some part of your job to be down there and supporting the parishes that were so devastated by the hurricanes and the oil spill?” Nungesser asked.
Dardenne replied: “Sometimes the people elect individuals who don’t always run to find a TV camera to say things about what they’re doing. What I do in response to crises is work.” For instance, he said he helped people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Nungesser appeared most nights on the national news shows in the wake of the BP oil disaster, blasting both the oil company and federal government’s responses.