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La. congressional races getting packed with candidates

by Minden Press-Herald

BATON ROUGE — Congressional candidate registrations slowed Thursday, with a handful of contenders adding their name to several already jam-packed races for open U.S. House and Senate seats.

With Republican U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and John Fleming running for the U.S. Senate, the competitions to fill their 3rd and 4th District seats have drawn lengthy lists of candidates for the Nov. 8 ballot.

State Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, and former state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas, signed their paperwork and paid their fees Thursday for the 4th District race covering northwest Louisiana, joining six candidates who had registered the day earlier.

Johnson, a constitutional attorney, positioned himself as both a political outsider and a man with a record of achievement in lawmaking.

“I do think that I’ve got a unique niche here because I’ve been in the Legislature a year and a half, not long enough to become part of the problem of the establishment, but just long enough to be there to have shown that one person with ideals can really move the ball and make a difference,” said Johnson, who has pushed social and fiscal conservative issues.

Guillory, also a lawyer, is the only candidate in the race from outside the Shreveport area. He said his campaign will focus on cutting government spending, improving literacy and strengthening the nation’s security.

“My message is basic, common-sense America,” he said.

Other Republicans in the race include doctor Trey Baucum; Oliver Jenkins, an oil and gas businessman and member of the Shreveport City Council; and lawyer Rick John. All three are from Shreveport.
Marshall Jones, a Shreveport lawyer, is the only Democrat in the race so far. Candidates without party affiliation include Mark Halverson of Shreveport, and Kenneth Krefft of Shreveport, who regularly dresses in colonial costume to recite the Declaration of Independence.

The 3rd District race covering south central and southwest Louisiana had attracted 11 candidates through Thursday.

Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who ran third in last year’s governor’s race, is the front-runner. The Republican from Breaux Bridge has been in politics for nearly 30 years, including as a former president of St. Martin Parish and a former state natural resources secretary.

Republican candidate Greg Ellison, a Lafayette oil and gas businessman, described Angelle as a career politician and said voters are “tired of career politicians running our country.” Also a political newcomer, Republican Gus Rantz, a health care businessman from Lafayette, echoed similar themes.

“2016 is the year for someone who has accomplished something outside of politics,” Rantz said.

Angelle denied suggestions he’s running for Congress as a stepping stone to another bid for governor in 2019. He responded to criticism about his long tenure in politics by saying: “There’s a difference between a career politician and a career public servant.”

Other Republican candidates are Brett Geymann, a former state representative from Lake Charles; Bryan Barrilleaux, a Lake Charles doctor who qualified with a nominating petition; and Grover Joseph Rees, a former U.S. ambassador to East Timor who worked as a congressional staffer for 10 years.

Also in the 3rd District race: Jacob “Dorian Phibian” Hebert, a Lafayette Democrat and artist; Guy McLendon, a Libertarian from Sulphur; Larry Rader, a New Iberia Democrat; Kenny Scelfo Sr. of Franklin, who has no party affiliation; and Herman Vidrine, a Lafayette Republican and retired state employee.

The crowded field for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican incumbent David Vitter attracted six more contenders Thursday, boosting the number of candidates in the race to 21. Josh Pellerin, a Lafayette Democrat in the oil and gas industry, said he’s running for the seat because “we need an intervention.”

“If we continue to elect the same folks, we will continue to get the same results,” he said Thursday.

Qualifying continues through Friday.

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