Scott Songy, one of three candidates running for state Sen. Conrad Appel’s seat in the Oct. 24 primary, said Monday that he has filed papers to withdraw from the race, and he is supporting lone remaining challenger John LaBruzzo over the incumbent.
The reason: Songy — who is paralyzed and couldn’t take the demands of campaigning anymore — said Appel never made time to speak with him about state budget cuts that were negatively affecting his home health care while former state Rep. LaBruzzo met with him in person.
“I feel that John LaBruzzo’s experience as a former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, coupled with his compassion for helping others, makes him the best and most qualified candidate,” Songy, who is not registered with a major political party, said in a statement. “He took the time to meet with me at my house, hear my concerns and offered ways to help me and others in my situation.”
Reached for comment Monday, Appel said he had not heard of Songy until last month, when he signed up to run against the senator. “If someone comes to me with specific problems, I talk to them,” Appel said.
Appel added, “Obviously, health care and education are priorities of this state, and they have not been correctly funded. It has to be a priority for the next governor and Legislature to structure things so we fund our top priorities first and then work our way down to things of lesser and lesser importance.”
Songy was originally one of four to sign up to run for Appel’s Metairie-based, state Senate District 9 seat. He is the second candidate to drop out after former Jefferson Parish School Board member Polly Thomas, the chairwoman of the Jefferson Parish Republican Party Executive Committee, withdrew Sept. 18. The parish Republican Party has endorsed Appel.
Paralyzed in an accident almost three decades ago, Songy said he entered the race because state budget cuts reduced his home health care by nearly 20 hours a week. Songy said his numerous calls for help were then ignored by Appel, who is seeking a third term; but he had no problem setting up a meeting with LaBruzzo to exchange ideas.
“One of the things he told me is that he has a family member who is disabled also, so he can ... relate,” said Songy, who noted that he filed to withdraw from the race late last week and then announced his endorsement of LaBruzzo.
Songy’s name will appear on the ballot for the primary, but a notice of his withdrawal will be posted at local precincts when it takes effect. Any votes cast for withdrawn candidates whose names are still on ballots do not count.
LaBruzzo, who was a member of the state House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012, said it was an honor to have Songy’s support.
“I understand that the people of District 9 have unique individual needs, and I am committed to representing everyone,” LaBruzzo said in a statement. “The citizens of District 9 are tired of not being heard. As their next state senator, I will put their wants, needs and concerns first.”
One of the issues in the race for Appel’s seat involves the education standards commonly referred to as Common Core.
Appel — the chairman of the Senate Education Committee — has been a vocal supporter of those standards. LaBruzzo — who like Appel is a Republican — does not, and he has said he would work to repeal those standards if elected.
As part of a compromise Appel helped work out, a process to review and tweak the standards is underway, and the state’s top education board is due to adopt modified standards by March.
NOTE: This post has been updated since it was first published to include remarks from Appel after he responded to a request for comment.