The race for the Lafayette-Lake Charles-based congressional seat got a little less crowded Thursday when Erick Knezek announced he would suspend his campaign.
A Lafayette Parish School Board member, Knezek was running as a Republican to replace U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. The incumbent is running for the Senate.
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Knezek didn’t give a reason for dropping out. “These last few months on the campaign trail have been exciting, and at the same time more humbling than I ever imagined,” he said in a prepared statement on his campaign website.
The deadline for filing quarterly campaign finance reports with the Federal Elections Commission was this week. The reports, which cover April, May and June, will be made public next week.
Knezek had reported in the last filing having received $101,680 in contributions through March 31 and he lent his campaign $450,700. During the same three-month period, Scott Angelle, also a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, had raised $362,704 in contributions and had $601,520 on hand.
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, said after Knezek announced his decision: “Erick Knezek’s experience and service as a successful businessman and veteran elevated the conversation throughout the course of this campaign.”
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Gus Rantz, another candidate for Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District, said: “Erick ran a tough, well-fought campaign. He was one of the hardest working guys out there and brought a lot of energy to the race.” Rantz is president of Acadiana Management Group, a Lafayette health care company.
The son of a Lafayette police officer, Knezek is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and had served as part of the United Nations Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2004, he started a company that specializes in providing ocean engineering.
In addition to Angelle and Rantz, Republicans who have said they were interested in running include: Greg Ellison, of Lafayette and a U.S. Army solider for more than 20 years before founding Kitty Hawk Energy; former Lake Charles Rep. Brett Geymann, who led the fiscal conservatives before having to leave the Legislature because of term limits; Clay Higgins, a former sheriff’s captain in Opelousas known as the “Cajun John Wayne” for his televised Crime Stoppers segments; and former U.S. ambassador to East Timor, Grover J. Rees, of Lafayette.
Two Democrats have expressed interest. They are: Dorian Phibian and Larry Rader, an insurance agent from New Iberia.