Congressional candidates take shots at Boustany, Obamacare, deficit

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Obamacare and the nation’s deficit came under fire from 3rd Congressional District candidates at the McNeese State University Student Government

Association’s debate on Wednesday night.

But no one took more heat than Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who didn’t show.

SGA President Davante Lewis said a letter was sent Sept. 25 inviting the candidates to the debate. Boustany’s absence put

a damper on the debate, he said.

“We made sure that it was very clear that if you could not make the date, we would be flexible with the day,” Lewis said.

“We made it very clear that we wanted to work with all candidates. Unfortunately we did not hear back from one, so we had

to go along with our plan. We worked with the candidates who were willing to work with us.”

John Porter, campaign adviser for Boustany, told the American Press on Wednesday that the congressman was at a Church Point meet-and-greet that was scheduled “way in advance” of the debate.

Candidates at the forum took jabs at Boustany’s absence throughout the debate.

Both Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, and Democrat Ron Richard allotted parts of their time to Boustany — gestures that were

followed by silence and then laughter from the crowd.

“We have to agree to work together,” Richard told the crowd. “If your congressman doesn’t show up, you can’t talk to him.

I had the pleasure of finally meeting my congressman. You know what I had to do to meet him? I ran against him. If you’re

a no-show, then you shouldn’t go — not to Congress.”

Topics for the debate were formulated

by students and included education, economy, health care and

constitutional interpretation.

Richard said he is running for the refinery workers of Southwest Louisiana. Richard also said that Congress is broken.

“I believe that solutions in life and

in Congress are usually found in the middle — not the extreme ends of

the political

spectrum,” he said. “Working with the other side is not a sign of

weakness. It’s a byproduct of this wonderfully diverse country,

and that’s why I’m a Democrat, because of that diversity of

ideas.”

Richard said, if elected, he would always stand with the workers over Wall Street and with small businesses over big banks.

Libertarian Jim Stark said his party affiliation takes the best from the left and the right. “I am fiscally conservative and

socially acceptable,” Stark said.

He disagreed with Richard on the need for compromise in Congress.

“I think there is too much compromise

in Congress right now and that’s how we got in this mess,” Stark said.

“Stand your ground

and realize that we are in so much debt that it is a factor. If we

don’t have mutual sacrifice now and cut (spending), we’re

going to find ourselves with no money for anything down the road.”

Stark also advocated for a constitutionally limited government.

Republican Bryan Barrilleaux said he is an anti-abortion conservative and not a career politician. “I’m in this campaign in

a special way. I was nominated by constituents,” he said.

Barrilleaux qualified with signatures

and not by paying fees to enter the race, and he has refused to take

campaign contributions

from anyone or to not spend his own money on the campaign. “I can

serve in Congress with absolutely no conflict of interest,”

he said.

Barrilleaux told the crowd that the nation’s financial problems will require a considerable amount of courage and fortitude

to overcome and that he has “conservative ideas to bring to Washington on your behalf.”

Landry said the 3rd Congressional District seat does not belong to anyone but the people.

“Tonight is an opportunity to have the employer, you, interview the applicant, us. The people on this stage have the courage

of their convictions and are willing to stand before you to be interviewed for this job,” he said.

“I ask you, if Charles Boustany can’t stand here and fight for what he believes in front of the people he has represented

for over eight years, how can you believe he will stand up ... to the Washington establishment.”

Landry, like Barrilleaux, said the problem in Washington is career politicians.

The election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.