Long-shots have their issues too
By MELINDA DESLATTE
BATON ROUGE — They may acknowledge they are long-shots, but the lesser-known contenders vying for Louisiana’s congressional seats on Nov. 6 have political positions and frustrations they want to discuss as they seek grassroots support for their candidacies.
Each of Louisiana’s six U.S. House races has drawn candidates who have little widespread name recognition and have done almost no fundraising while trying to oust incumbent congressmen.
Some of the names have appeared again and again on election ballots in unsuccessful bids for office. Others are political newcomers. All of them have difficult, if not impossible battles to win their races.
While some of the long-shot candidates are promoting specific policy points, others say they just don’t want to see an elected official coast back into office.
“There’s something un-American about an unopposed congressional candidate,” said Rufus Craig Jr., a Libertarian running against Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy in the Baton Rouge-based 6th District.
At a recent candidate forum, Craig said his party offers an alternative to Democrats and Republicans, who he said have not done enough to solve the nation’s problems or keep government from growing out of control.
“We keep sending Democrats and Republicans to Washington. Without change, there can be no progress,” said Richard “RPT” Torregano, an independent also running in the 6th District race.
In the neighboring 5th District, Ron Ceasar said he’s disappointed with the leadership of Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander.
An Opelousas independent who lost a bid for governor last year, Ceasar said in an email that he’s running to support President Barack Obama’s agenda and to improve representation for the district’s residents.
“I will be there, working for Louisiana citizens, promoting job growth for our citizens, increasing funding for education and health care and backing our president’s agenda to move this nation forward, not backwards,” he wrote, seeking supporters for his bid to represent the district covering northeast and central Louisiana parishes.
Many of the long-shot contenders are Libertarians or independents who say the two parties who have traded power in this country for decades simply haven’t done their jobs well.
“The pendulum swings back and forth: Democrat, Republican, Democrat, Republican — and nothing ever gets done. The situation gets worse and worse and worse every year: more war, more spending, more loss of liberty,” said Jim Stark, a Libertarian from Lake Charles running for the 3rd District congressional seat representing southwest Louisiana.
He’s among a five-man field of candidates, including two Republican incumbent congressmen, Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry, who were forced into the same district after Louisiana lost a U.S. House seat because of the latest federal census.
In the same race, Republican Bryan Barrilleaux, a doctor from Lake Charles, started with a difficult premise for a political campaign. He refuses to take contributions to help his effort, arguing that money corrupts politicians and sidetracks them from their duties for the people they represent.
He got onto the ballot through a nominating petition, rather than by paying the qualifying fees most candidates usually pay.
“When I serve in Congress, I will serve with no conflict of interest and with no distractions,” Barrilleaux said at a forum in Crowley pitching his candidacy. “I am not compromised or corrupted by the money.”