Is Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race, like this year’s Republican presidential primary season, going to feature a kids’ table?
Maybe, based on how a recent candidate forum before a group of business associations went down.
The three leading Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate agreed Wednesday on most issues …
No fewer than 11 candidates have indicated they plan to seek retiring U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s seat this fall, but the National Federation of Independent Business, the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Louisiana Retail Association invited just four to participate in a lunchtime forum this week. One of the candidates, Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, had a conflict, so only three Republicans, state Treasurer John Kennedy and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming, got to make their pitches.
That didn’t sit well with Democratic lawyer Caroline Fayard, who sought to make a big stink over her exclusion.
On the one hand, she has a point. Organizers used an independent Southern Media & Opinion Research poll to determine the leading candidates and issued invitations only to those who’d cleared the 5 percent threshold. Campbell got 9 percent and Fayard, a onetime lieutenant governor candidate, had 4 percent, although the poll found that 42 percent of Democrats are undecided, which suggests support for both Democrats is likely to grow. The forum also excluded a relatively prominent Republican, Col. Rob Maness, who made his name in a losing bid for the state’s other Senate seat in 2014.
Louisiana’s everyone-in-the-pool primary system definitely has its charms. But as the state …
On the other hand, unwieldy candidate fields are a real problem for forum organizers, and an even bigger challenge for producers of higher-profile television debates. And polls are a generally accepted measure of any given candidate's prominence and prospects.
Still, as we saw during a crazy primary season in which major figures such as then-Gov. Bobby Jindal were consigned to undercard debates, these determinations can be self-fulfilling. His ill-fated presidential campaign had plenty of shortcomings, but it certainly didn’t help that the networks kept him off the big stage that Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others shared.
Consider this just one more way that no Louisiana politician wants to follow in Jindal’s footsteps.