- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - From the start, the race to fill Louisiana’s open 3rd District U.S. House seat was always about Scott Angelle and whether he would enter the competition. Once the third-place finisher in last year’s governor’s race announced he was in, the race largely remained about him.

The Republican member of the Public Service Commission has been in politics for nearly 30 years, as a former president of St. Martin Parish, an ex-state natural resources secretary and a one-time top aide to former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Angelle is one of a dozen candidates vying for the seat representing southwest and south central Louisiana, which is open because Republican Charles Boustany is running for the U.S. Senate instead of re-election.

No candidate is expected to top 50 percent in the Nov. 8 election, so the race appears headed to a Dec. 10 runoff. Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, appears to be the only contender with a lock on a runoff spot. He’s raised from donors nearly as much as all his competitors combined.

“It’s his race to lose. He has a huge name advantage. He has a huge fundraising advantage. He’s really familiar to voters. Voters are comfortable with him. He’s kind of a true favorite son,” said Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Considered possibilities for reaching the runoff with Angelle are four Republicans: Greg Ellison, a Lafayette oil and gas businessman; Gus Rantz, a Lafayette health care businessman; Brett Geymann, a former state lawmaker from Lake Charles; and former sheriff’s Capt. Clay Higgins, dubbed the “Cajun John Wayne” because of his well-known Crime Stoppers videos.

Democrat Larry Rader, owner of a New Iberia insurance agency and president of the Port of Iberia, also is seen as possibly making the runoff. He’s the only major Democratic contender in the district, though he’s reported no fundraising.

Few polls have been released publicly in the race, making it difficult to determine who may be gaining traction with voters in a region where many people are still repairing homes after mid-August flooding.

Angelle is pushing himself as a defender of oil and gas, one of the largest industries in the district. He’s promoting his fight against President Barack Obama’s oil drilling moratorium after the Gulf oil spill in 2010 and says he wants to protect the industry from burdensome regulations.

Ellison and Rantz have positioned themselves as outsiders, suggesting Angelle is a career politician. Ellison, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army, focuses on his military background. Rantz talks of building his business after being raised by a family that lived in public housing. In one ad, Rantz displays a calculator as he describes his parents scraping to pay their bills.

“In Washington, this calculator will sit on my desk every day as a reminder that our families live within their means, and our government should too,” he says.

From the Lake Charles area, Geymann is trying to consolidate support in his southwestern end of the district, hoping that will propel him into the runoff. He’s running on his legislative record as a fiscal conservative and vocal opponent of the Common Core education standards.

“With so many strong candidates in the (Lafayette area) working from their home base, we believe that being the only major candidate from the west gets us out of the gate a little quicker,” Geymann said.

Higgins largely is running on the strength of his personality - and his celebrity.

A reserve deputy marshal with the Lafayette City Marshal’s Office, Higgins produced over-the-top Crime Stoppers segments at the sheriff’s office that drew national attention, in which he mocked those suspected of crimes. Higgins left the sheriff’s office in a disagreement with the sheriff over the outsized rhetoric and concerns that Higgins was violating office policy with the mugs, T-shirts and other “Captain Higgins” items he sold.

Lafayette media have reported allegations that Higgins threatened his first wife and printed emails that suggest he broke sheriff’s department rules and was more interested with his own prominence than with his job.

Higgins responded with a YouTube video in which he says he’s being hit with “vicious lies” and evil spirit in an effort to “destroy me.” He blames Angelle and the “Bobby Jindal machine,” saying they want to position Angelle for a 2019 run for governor by getting him to Congress.

“That’s a desperate attack from a desperate politician,” Angelle spokesman Ryan Cross replied. “When God closes doors, he opens windows. Last year, God closed a door to Scott being governor. Simultaneously, he opened a window for Scott to continue fighting for hard-working south Louisiana families.”

Hitting different issues, Rader talks about expanding green energy, boosting job creation, reducing the prison population and increasing youth rehabilitation programs.

Other Republican candidates are Bryan Barrilleaux, a Lake Charles doctor; and Grover Joseph Rees, a former U.S. ambassador to East Timor. Also in the race are Jacob “Dorian Phibian” Hebert, a Lafayette Democrat; Guy McLendon, a Libertarian from Sulphur; Kenny Scelfo Sr. of Franklin, who has no party affiliation; and Herman Vidrine, a Lafayette Republican.

___

Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/melindadeslatte


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide