The McNeese State Student Government Association hosted a debate between candidates for the 3rd Congressional District on Wednesday night in Baker Auditorium. From left are Rep. Jeff Landry (R), Ron Richard (D), Bryan Barrilleaux (R) and Jim Stark (Libertarian). Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R) did not attend the debate. (Lance Traweek / American Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:51 AM
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.
Posted By: Lisa Alex On: 10/20/2012
Please. The man can't even show up to explain all the "lies" Landry is supposedly telling about him, even though every other word out of Boustany's mouth is false. Where is our supposedly sincere public servant? In hiding. Why? Because he can't take the heat. Go home Charlie.
Posted By: Tim Cheramie On: 10/19/2012
Title: What a joke
Let them beat up on Boustany, because, according to this article, he was meeting with constituents in Church Point. I also find it amusing Landry was the one who wanted to ship Calcasieu, along with McNeese State University, up to Congressman Fleming's district and loop in in with Shreveport as a part of his "single-voice, coastal district." Boustany has done more for Lake Charles, Calcasieu, and the western part of this district, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, than all the previous men who held this seat combined.