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State treasurer’s lead disappears in Senate race

by Minden Press-Herald

BATON ROUGE — Republican Treasurer John Kennedy’s lead in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race has slipped after months as the front-runner in the competition, with GOP U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany closing the gap, according to an independent poll released Wednesday.

Kennedy leads the pack of contenders in the latest survey released by Southern Media and Opinion Research with 17 percent, but Boustany is close behind at 15 percent, within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Among the top-polling Democrats, lawyer Caroline Fayard had the support of 11 percent of the voters surveyed. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell was next at 9 percent.

Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming had 8 percent in the poll.

Kennedy’s campaign suggested it wasn’t concerned about Boustany’s rise, which came after the congressman aired several TV ads across south Louisiana over the last month.

“Charles Boustany spent more than one million dollars on television, and he is still in low single digits outside his congressional district. We haven’t spent a dime yet. We feel great about this race,” Kennedy spokesman Lionel Rainey said in a statement.

But Boustany’s also managed to tighten the race with Kennedy even amid allegations published in a new book that claimed Boustany was involved with prostitutes who were later killed. Boustany has called them “despicable lies” and blamed Kennedy for spreading information about the book. The Associated Press hasn’t been able to independently confirm the allegations.

Boustany’s campaign said the poll numbers show the congressman is “surging.”

“Career politician John Kennedy’s support is imploding. The people of Louisiana know John Kennedy, but they don’t want to put him in the United States Senate as soon as they find out they have another choice,” Boustany spokesman Jack Pandol said in a campaign email.

A sizable 26 percent of those surveyed remained undecided about who they’ll support among the 24 candidates vying for the seat on the Nov. 8 ballot. The race is expected to be decided in a December runoff.

The statewide poll of 500 likely voters, conducted from Sept. 15 through 17 and paid by a group of bipartisan investors, raises the possibility that the runoff could be an all-Republican affair, if Fayard and Campbell split the state’s Democratic vote.

The two have been dividing high-profile Democratic endorsements and support, with Gov. John Bel Edwards allied with Campbell and Fayard backed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

White supremacist David Duke, who is running as a Republican, polled at 3 percent.

Among other GOP candidates, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness received 3 percent support and former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao took under 2 percent. Democratic oil and gas businessman Josh Pellerin also came in with under 2 percent.

In the presidential race, the poll showed Republican nominee Donald Trump at 49 percent support with Louisiana voters, compared to 33 percent for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

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