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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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24 contenders vying for Louisiana's open US Senate seat

24 contenders vying for Louisiana's open US Senate seat

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's fall ballot is going to be a long one, as competitors trying to reach Washington crammed the races for open U.S. House and Senate seats during the three-day qualifying period that ended Friday.

The Senate race was the most popular, drawing 24 candidates to replace Republican incumbent David Vitter, who isn't running for re-election. The Secretary of State's Office said the Senate candidate list has more people on it than any congressional race in its database, which stretches back to 1982.

Among the contenders are two congressmen, the state treasurer, lawyers, businessmen and white supremacist David Duke, who made a surprise entrance into the race on the last day of the qualifying period.

After signing his paperwork and paying the registration fee, Duke — a Republican and convicted felon who last served in elected office as a state lawmaker in 1994 — said: "I believe my time has come."

Other GOP contenders include U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao, U.S. Rep. John Fleming, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness and state Treasurer John Kennedy. Democrats include New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and Lafayette oil and gas businessman Josh Pellerin. Former state Alcohol and Tobacco Control Commissioner Troy Hebert is running without a party affiliation.

Maness, the third-place finisher in the 2014 competition, signed up Friday a few hours before Duke. Maness touted his 32 years of military experience, calling himself the only "warrior" in the race and saying that's what America needs.

"We're weaker than we've ever been. We're not leading. And the world's on fire," he said.

Maness tried to register for the ballot as "Colonel Rob," but was denied. Elections officials said the nickname isn't allowed under Louisiana law, and the Maness campaign left open the possibility of a lawsuit.

The election is Nov. 8, with all candidates, regardless of party, running against each other.

All four incumbent congressmen seeking re-election — Republicans Ralph Abraham, Garret Graves and Steve Scalise; and Democrat Cedric Richmond — will face opposition on the ballot.

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