The race to succeed Baton Rouge state Sen. Dan Claitor features two veteran GOP House members and a Democrat who has never sought elected office.
The conventional wisdom is this: Republican Reps. Steve Carter and Franklin Foil, longtime seatmates in the House, are battling for a spot in a likely Nov. 16 runoff against political newcomer Beverly Brooks Thompson, who benefits from being the lone Democrat in the race.
Carter, Foil and Thompson said they plan to spend between $250,000 and $300,000 to capture the affluent southeast Baton Rouge post.
Also running are Libertarian Everett Baudean, who said he neither raising nor spending any campaign money and Republican Bob Bell, who says he is relying on a social media campaign after two failed bids for Congress.
The primary is Oct. 12. If one candidate doesn't win a majority of the votes, the two top vote-getters will face off in a Nov. 16 general election.
The five contenders who hope to succeed state Sen. Dan Claitor showed wide differences on abortion during a forum Monday at the Press Club of …
The Senate district is one of the most affluent in Louisiana.
It includes the high-end Country Club of Louisiana, industry executives and exclusive Bocage subdivision as well as most of LSU.
Roughly three of four residents are white and more than half have college degrees, officials said.
Carter, 75, is a gregarious politician and former LSU tennis coach who loves shaking hands and chatting with voters.
He said he is banging on doors nearly daily – not in the rain or during LSU football games – and is often accompanied by grandaughters Carter Hunt, 7 and her sister Yvie, 8.
Carter waved off a sympathetic word about the heat during a recent afternoon hunt for votes in the Westminster subdivision, near Drusilla Lane in Baton Rouge.
"Got to suck it up if we want to win," he joked. "This ain't no church league."
Foil, 54, has been endorsed by Claitor, who is being forced out by term limits.
"It is huge," Foil said of Claitor's backing. "He encouraged me to consider running."
Thompson, a veteran fundraising consultant, served as director of the Forever LSU fundraising campaign.
She said her work has allowed her to get acquainted with the inner workings of state government.
"Having done the work in higher education, having done the work in health care, I know how it works and have been doing the work," said Thompson, 49.
"Other people show up for the ribbon cutting," she said. "I have actually done the heavy lift."
Thompson said, "I have 25 years of public service experience. I just have never been in an elective office."
The race is one of five statewide that features current House members competing for the same Senate post.
An inordinate number of current and former state lawmakers are squaring off for seats in the Louisiana Senate in the Oct. 12 primary, putting …
At least publicly Foil and Carter, who have similar voting records, have stressed their legislative credentials rather than blasting each other.
Foil, who like Carter entered the House in 2008, said his longtime priority is representing those with disabilities.
He pledged 12 years ago to bring bills yearly on the issue.
"They need a champion," Foil said.
Foil has sponsored legislation mandating health insurance coverage for children on the autism spectrum.
He also authored a bill that creates a tax-free savings account to trim financial concerns for those with disabilities and their families.
Sponsors are trying to get the word out that families who pay tuition at elementary and secondary schools are eligible for a federal tax break.
Foil is an attorney whose practice is focused in part on estate planning for those with special needs.
Other priorities include protecting and improving the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS, and infrastructure.
"The traffic and the drainage are both becoming more of a problem for Baton Rouge," he said.
Carter has long been identified with efforts to improve traffic by boosting the state gasoline tax, including a failed bid in 2017 to increase the state gas tax by 17 cents per gallon, or $510 million per year.
The sponsor of a long-shot bid to increase Louisiana's gas tax shelved his own proposal Monday.
"We have to do something when we have that much of a backlog, $14 billion or $15 billion," he said of the state's list of road and bridge projects.
Carter is a longtime advocate of early childhood education.
He was chairman of the House Education Committee from 2012-15, and sponsored two landmark bills in 2012 that expanded school vouchers statewide and toughened teacher tenure rules.
Thompson, who earned four degrees from LSU, said education "across the board" is her top priority, starting with early childhood education.
She noted that the Senate district has an abundance of industry and education leaders.
"It is an economic driver for the rest of the state," Thompson said. "And I know all of those people."
She calls herself fiscally conservative and "a little bit more moderate" on social issues.
"I am going to run this race like we are the underdog," Thompson said. "And we are the underdog. I don't have any misconceptions.
Baudean, 32, is an attorney.
"The theme of my campaign, as I keep saying, is to ask not what the government can do for you but what it must first stop doing to you," he said.
Baudean said the state has too many bad laws on the books.
"Today's solutions are tomorrow's problems," he said.
Baudean said the state needs to build on its recent criminal justice changes and noted that Claitor sponsored legislation to abolish Louisiana's death penalty.
"I would definitely take up that mantle as his successor," he said.
Bell, 76, retired as a captain after 30 years in the Navy reserve in the legal department and two years in the National Guard.
He said the state suffers from over-regulation.
"We want to bring business sense to state government," Bell said.
The Republican said his campaign is relying on his 3,400 Facebook friends as well as Twitter and Instagram.
Bell also indirectly criticized legislative veterans Carter and Foil.
"We are trying to get the needs addressed because people keep getting elected over and over again and we are still last in education."