Billy Nungesser, candidate for lieutenant governor, backed out of two upcoming forums with incumbent Jay Dardenne, campaign and event representatives said Thursday.
Nungesser said Thursday scheduling conflicts prevent his participation. He said he would send a representative to both forums, if he is allowed to by the sponsoring groups.
“He doesn’t want a side-by-side comparison between the two of us,” Dardenne said Thursday about Nungesser’s no-shows.
Nungesser scrapped a Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge event set for Friday evening as well as one sponsored by the Press Club of Baton Rouge at noon Monday.
Campaign spokeswoman Amy Jones said Nungesser “is committed to attend an event for a charity foundation in New Orleans on Friday night and has a fundraising lunch on Monday.”
Nungesser, who is president of Plaquemines Parish, is challenging the re-election bid of Dardenne in the Oct. 22 election. Both Nungesser and Dardenne are Republicans.
Dardenne, a former secretary of state, won a special election for lieutenant governor last year to fill a vacancy created when Mitch Landrieu became New Orleans mayor.
He is seeking his first four-term term.
The cancellation surprised Harold LaCour, vice president of the Pachyderms group.
He said, as of Wednesday when he talked to a campaign scheduler, Nungesser’s appearance was still on.
When first advised — by a reporter — that Nungesser would not attend, LaCour said, “He sure didn’t tell me about it.”
“We put publicity out in good faith. Now what do I do? Do you go in and tell all those people not to come,” LaCour said Thursday.
He said he had a nearly capacity audience ready to hear the candidates on the issues.
After talking with Nungesser’s scheduler, LaCour said the campaign wanted to send a representative instead.
LaCour said the event will go on without Nungesser.
The Nungesser campaign also notified the Press Club that the candidate would not appear, after first accepting, said Kimberly Vetter, a Press Club vice president and a reporter with The Advocate.
“We are trying to convince him to come,” Vetter said.