A record 24 candidates will appear on the November ballot for the US Senate seat being vacated by David Vitter. UL-Lafayette political science professor Pearson Cross says State Treasurer John Kennedy is leading in the early polls. But Cross says Kennedy is going up against some big names.
“Boustany, the congressman from southwest Louisiana, Fleming, the congressman from northwest Louisiana, Rob Maness, Foster Campbell’s in there, and he’s been around forever. Everybody knows who he is,” Cross said.
Republicans Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Fleming, Col. Rob Maness, and former KKK leader David Duke are also big names in the race. Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and attorney Caroline Fayard are the major Democrats on the ballot. Cross says if a Democrat can pull most of the party vote, they will have a good chance at making the runoff.
“If neither can make much headway, then you’re likely to see two Republicans in the runoff. So that’s going to determine, I think, who comes to the floor,” Cross said.
Cross says Duke’s entrance into the race means national media coverage, and with this many candidates, there will also be quite a bit of money spent. He says with this many candidates on the ballot, the high vote getter in the primary might only have 23% of the vote.
“Everybody’s going to be in the race. It’s not like there’s going to be some people way out in front. Everybody has a chance, and that’s going to make for a very exciting race,” Cross said.
Former state legislator and ex-Klansman David Duke has entered the race for the open Senate seat in Louisiana. He says he will run on the same campaign principles he has for decades and standing up for the rights of European Americans.
“Stopping the massive immigration, preserving the character and the culture and the values of America. What other candidate has said ‘Well, I’m going to make sure we can say Merry Christmas again in America’? We should say Merry Christmas,” Duke said.
Duke says he does not think his former affiliation with the KKK will negatively impact his campaign. He says plenty of other elected officials have associations with similar groups.
“I have no apologies for my history. No apologies! This is a no apologies tour. You know and I know that over these years, and again I’m sad to say it in a way, I was right,” Duke said.
The Louisiana Republican Party has denounced Duke. Party chairman Roger Villere says Duke is not and has never been a true Republican. He says they will do everything they can to make sure Duke does not get elected.
“We just don’t agree with him on anything, and we would like to just say that we would ask people not to consider him a Republican and not vote for David Duke,” Villere said.
Duke says this is not the first time the Republican Party has denounced him. He says being rejected by the party is the best endorsement he could get.
“I thank the Republican Party for coming out officially against me,” Duke said.
A tearful goodbye was given today to the first of three law enforcement officers killed on Sunday’s police ambush. Thousands attended the funeral service of Baton Rouge Police Officer Matthew Gerald. Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden spoke and said it’s time for the community to come together. He says we need to put aside our differences and start to understand respect.
“Respect means you give honor to those who honor is due. The men and women who put on those uniforms respect you, respect them.”
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie got emotional when describing his worst fear coming true and remembering his fallen officer. He says Gerald served his country with honor and is proud of the man everyone gathered to mourn. Dabadie says Gerald fought a good fight and finished his course.
“You have to wait until the sunset to know how good the day was. Officer Gerald’s day has ended, the sun has set and God himself has declared that day was good, that day was very good.”
Director of Training at the Baton Rouge Police Department Lt. J.D. Leach says even though Officer Gerald had only been on the force a few months, he set an example for the younger members training to become a police officer. He says Matt had a simple answer when asked why he became an officer.
“I’ve been serving my country, and now it’s time to serve my community.”
The owner of a Mandeville snowball stand has been arrested for inappropriate sexual behavior with some of his juvenile employees. Captain Gerald Sticker with the Mandeville Police Department says the owner of Shiver Shack, 56-year-old Anthony Fortune, was receiving sexual favors and in exchange he would pay his victims cash and supply them with illegal narcotics.
“Female juvenile employees that he had hired, basically kids with summer jobs, cultivated those relationships with his employees there on the job.”
Sticker says currently, there are four victims but advises anyone with any additional information to come forward. He says Fortune conducted indecent behavior with his juvenile employees for about two months.
“Then about two weeks ago, I guess the kids were talking about it amongst themselves and it got out. An individual made the police department aware of it so we starting looking into it.”
Fortune faces numerous charges including possession of a schedule I narcotic, carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and child trafficking for sexual purposes. Sticker says this is a very disturbing case because it’s a business that hires kids and caters to kids.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we can get their business license revoked and shut them down. I’d like to see that personally.”
A man is behind bars for threatening Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator on Facebook. Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Cindy Chadwick says 25-year-old Michael Evans made a disturbing post on July 20.
“That post specifically named Sheriff Prator. It said that he needed to be at the top of the list the next time the next list dropped, and then it said flat line,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick says Evans was charged with terrorizing. She says he was picked up during a traffic stop in Sacramento, California, on a warrant issued by Judge John Mosely.
“Judge Mosely affixed a $10 million bond on this charge. Our suspect was located in California last night,” Chadwick said.
Chadwick says threatening someone is always illegal, but police have to be extra cautious in light of the recent attacks on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. She says the extradition process will begin to bring Evans back to Caddo parish.
“We’ll try to get him back here and make him be accountable for the statements that he put on Facebook,” Chadwick said.
Saturday marks one year since a man opened fire during a showing of a movie at a Lafayette theater, killing two people and injuring nine others. Joey Durel was the mayor on July 23rd, 2015. He's called the shooting a tragic anomaly, but it never meant that Lafayette and Acadiana are not safe communities.
"As bad as it feels to say it, we don't have any choice as a community but to move on," said Durel. "And we did. And in a very positive way."
Durel said they couldn't have moved on as easily if it weren't for the love and support from people throughout the state, and the nation.
He says one of the things that sticks out in his mind the most was a statement from an officer the next day who said, "All around the country people are throwing bricks at police, and here they are throwing food to us."
"There was an amazing amount of outpouring from people and restaurants," said Durel of all the food being delivered to first responders at the scene. "I know our officers felt very, very appreciated."
Durel said, as Baton Rouge is dealing with the horrible tragedy of the police ambush by someone who was from out of state, he's constantly reminded of the outpouring of support from the community to cops and first responders.
He says when the shooting happened, the response from Louisianians was similar to what we see after hurricanes.
"People came out of the woodwork to help, and to play a role."
Today is the first of three funerals that will be held for the fallen Baton Rouge officers. The memorial at the gas station where Sunday’s tragedy took place has grown tremendously, as mourners have placed flowers, balloons, and cards at that location. Chris Brown put three crosses he built in front of the memorial. He says it’s a token from his family to theirs.
“There’s never too much we can do to support our officers and those families who lost their fathers and their husbands. Now especially they’re going to need the community back them up as much as possible,” Brown said.
Elizabeth Kasulaitis lives near the scene of the shooting. She says it’s heartbreaking this tragedy happened to the ones who serve and protect us.
“It’s wonderful that we still have a lot of people that support the police, and it’s tragic that we have to have this here, but I’m just praying that things will get better,” Kasulaitis said.
Lacey Rogers brought flowers to lay at the tribute. She she’s touched to see how much the memorial has grown over the past week. She hopes this will bring the community together.
“I think that if people can join in on this, then they can join in on us being together because together we are strong, divided we fall,” Rogers said.
Funeral services for Matthew Gerald is today. Deputy Brad Garafola will be laid to rest on Saturday and Baton Rouge police officer Montrell Jackson’s services will be Monday. Officer Chris Wallace from Canton, Ohio, came to Baton Rouge to take part in all three funerals and is glad to see the community support for the men in blue.
“It just shows that people still care about what we do. They want us here, and they do support us even in hard times, especially in the bad times they come around and rally around us,” Wallace said.
State Police have made an arrest in the fatal hit and run crash that killed a skateboarder near the Southeastern Louisiana campus. Trooper Dustin Dwight says 37-year-old Vincent Young of Natalbany has been booked into jail.
"We were able to link him to the scene with forensic evidence, witness statements, as well as, the assistance from the public and even investigative means to put him at that scene."
Young faces several charges including Felony Hit and Run. The incident happened in May on University Avenue in Hammond. Dwight says they believe Young’s vehicle was the second one that hit 26-year-old Erin Gerhard of Independence.
"After out skateboarder was hit, another vehicle, which would be Mr. Young, came through the scene and struck him again."
Dwight says the investigation continues as they are still looking for the first vehicle that hit Gerhard on the night of May 11th.
"White colored Chevy pickup truck or Silverado, GMC type model pick up truck, that truck fled the scene."
One of the officers injured in Sunday’s ambush on Baton Rouge police has been released from the hospital.
East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Simmons was being treated for injuries to his shoulder and arm at Baton Rouge General, where he underwent two surgeries. Hospital staff and supporters greeted Simmons and his family as he was released.
One deputy still remains in the hospital, Nick Tullier. He is being treated for gunshot wounds to his head and torso and is still in critical condition.
A former Texas law enforcement officer is donating custom made caskets to the three officers who lost their lives in Sunday’s ambush in Baton Rouge. Trey Ganem is the owner of Trey Ganem Designs says he decided to make the caskets after watching a video featuring one of the fallen officers, Montrell Jackson.
“All of these are hand painted, we custom paint all of our caskets. These are actually done with the American flag across the top, so it’s a solid black casket.”
Ganem says they also incorporated something unique about each officer on to the different caskets, one includes the Superman shield. He says he gets very emotional when designing each casket.
“Everyone we do, we do the best we can. Whether it’s a Tinkerbell casket, a law enforcement, whatever it may be, we put 100% of our heart and soul into these caskets.”
Ganem says he will have a full police escort to each funeral home as he delivers the three caskets to the funeral homes.
“And we’ll revel the casket and we’ll cry together, we’ll hold each other, and we’ll get to know a little bit more about each one of our family members.”
A state record was set at the Secretary of State’s office during the first day of qualifying, as 52 people entered one of the federal races. Political analyst Clancy Dubos says open seats for high office always draw large fields. But he says it could be voter frustration as well that’s embodied by the Trump movement.
“People are upset with the status quo, so maybe more people are interested in trying to challenge incumbents,” Dubos said.
Dubos says it’s rare to have an open senate seat and two open Congressional seats in Louisiana. Qualifying ends Friday, and Dubos says we could see even more people join the race between now and then.
“I think when it’s all said and done we could have 65 to 70 or more people running for federal elections in Louisiana,” Dubos said.
Seventeen individuals have signed up for the state’s senate race. Dubos says it’s likely there will be a Republican and a Democrat who make the runoff. But he says with this many people, anything is possible.
“It’s not beyond the realm of possibility to have two Republicans or even two Democrats in that runoff because the field is so crowded and the votes could get chopped up,” Dubos said.
Very hot temperatures are expected this week, so the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness is urging everyone to take caution. GOHSEP Director Jim Waskom says it’s very important to drink lots of water and take frequent breaks in the shade.
“If you’re outdoors, you need to limit your strenuous outdoor activity, find some shade and just stay hydrated and continue to pump those fluids.”
Waskom says we’re expected to see temperatures reach the high 90s and even into the 100s. He says it’s important to monitor friends and loved ones who are homebound during this extreme heat.
“If you’re indoors we worry about the elderly without air conditioning, so if you have a friend or family member that may be in that situation we advise you to go check on them periodically.”
Waskom says forecasters predict this pattern to carry on into the fall as a heat dome is covering a large part of the country. He wants to remind drivers to look before you lock.
“Especially with children and pets, obviously don’t forget about them. Always check your back seat to ensure that you don’t forget about any.”
Verbal jabs are already being exchanged in the 2nd Congressional District race that features two Democrats, US Representative Cedric Richmond and challenger Kip Holden. Holden has served as the mayor of Baton Rouge since 2005 and is term-limited. Holden is criticizing Richmond for not taking part in the discussions or the recovery in the Capital City following both the Alton Sterling shooting and the ambush on police.
“In Baton Rouge, he’s mainly been in the lost and found section. I don’t think there’s any one thing he can point that he’s done even in Baton Rouge,” Holden said.
The 2nd Congressional district covers New Orleans, parts of the River Parishes and a portion of Baton Rouge. But Richmond says Holden is the one who has been missing in action.
“I think we have a couple obligations. One, it is to listen. Two, it’s to convene parties when there are some tensions, and three, it’s to lead, and that I don’t think has happened,” Richmond said.
Holden defended his absence saying he has been in confidential briefings and says he’s been very active behind the scenes.
“So if they consider that not being in public, I’m sorry, but they don’t go to everything I go to, and I don’t make an announcement about everywhere I’m going,” Holden said.
Richmond says Holden entering the race is not fair to the Baton Rouge community because during these tough times, the city needs its leader. He says he welcomes Holden to the race, but he needs to resign as mayor.
“I think that the times we’re in are more serious that we’ve ever been in in a very long time. I think tensions in the community are very high, and I think that Baton Rouge deserves a full-time mayor,” Richmond said.
Three big Republican names have officially joined the race for Louisiana’s open US Senate seat, as they filled out the necessary paperwork at the Secretary of State’s office. State Treasurer John Kennedy is already leading in the polls. Kennedy says in the last 8 years, Congress has done a lousy job, and he’ll bring common-sense thinking to DC.
“I think our country was founded by geniuses, but many days I think it’s being run by idiots. You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy says he wants to help grow businesses in the private sector. He says there are a few things business owners need, and he wants to make sure they have it.
“They need low taxes, reasonable regulations, a good infrastructure, and a skilled workforce, and then government needs to get out of the way, and that’s what I’m going to work for,” Kennedy said.
Lafayette Congressman Charles Boustany put his name on the ballot as well. He says our country is facing serious challenges, and those challenges keep mounting. He says Louisiana needs a leader at the table for the discussions on these major issues and someone who can get things done.
“I’m not a talker, I’m a doer. I get results, and I have a strong record of having accomplished a lot of things in the House, and that’s what I want to take to the United States Senate on behalf of our entire state,” Boustany said.
Boustany says he is not worried that Kennedy is leading in the early polls. The Congressman believes his campaign will convince a majority of the voters to vote for him.
“I’ve never lost an election, and I don’t intend to lose this one. The fact of the matter is you’ve got to run a good campaign, and you have to have a good message, and that’s what we have,” Boustany said.
Republican Congressman John Fleming was the first candidate to qualify for the race. He says the people need an outsider and a strong conservative leader in the Senate.
“Washington needs a change. Washington needs an outsider, someone who’s willing to speak truth to power, someone who’s willing to take on our party leadership,” Fleming said.
Fleming says he has the most conservative voting record in our delegation. He says one key issue is budget reform. He says unless changes are made, we could end up with a $40 trillion national debt.
“If we don’t stand up to the liberal progressive spending habits that are happening in territories today, states, and cities, our budget is going to explode,” Fleming said.
With Bobby Jindal out of office and Senator David Vitter leaving politics soon, it begs the question as to who is the face of the Republican Party in Louisiana. ULM political science professor Dr. John Sutherlin says Vitter and Jindal were the top two GOP figureheads for years and the winner of this fall’s US Senate election could be the next Republican leader.
“They would very much have a position and a claim to make towards picking up the leadership within the Louisiana Republican Party in the state,” Sutherlin said.
Some may point to Steve Scalise as the republican leader in the state. But Sutherlin says the US Representative and House Majority Whip is the third-ranking Republican in the Congress, but he’s not well known out of the New Orleans area.
“You really just don’t find very many people that know Congressman Scalise, despite having a strong leadership position within Congress,” Sutherlin said.
Sutherlin says party leadership typically comes from the Governor’s office or the sheriff’s departments, and having a democrat in the Governor’s mansion complicates the situation. He says Attorney General Jeff Landry is becoming more of a factor in the state Republican Party, particularly among socially conservative Republicans.
“Can he translate that into statewide leadership? There’s still a ways to go, but certainly you would have to say that Jeff Landry has got to be the most improved politician in the state,” Sutherlin said.
Rumors are swirling the LHSAA executive committee is seeking to buyout or terminate the contract of executive director Eddie Bonine. LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee says Bonine received a positive evaluation a couple of months ago from the executive committee.
"But, I would be foolish to sit down and tell you that when you got a 23, 24-member board that every board member is satisfied with the director," Bonnaffee said.
Bonnaffee has called a special meeting of the LHSAA executive committee for Monday.
Bonine is expected to discuss a report he presented to the NFHS convention last month, where he described high school sports in Louisiana as a "dumpster fire," because of the growing split between public and private schools. Bonnaffee admits that statement rubbed some committee members the wrong way.
"We probably have some individuals who are in disagreement with Mr. Bonine in the way he does things that's only natural," Bonnaffee said. "But I do believe he has majority of the support of the executive committee."
Monday's meeting will give Bonine a chance to explain himself and the controversial statement he made.
Over a dozen candidates filed paperwork to run for Louisiana’s open US Senate seat on the first day of qualifying. The two major Democrats in the race were among the first to qualify. New Orleans attorney Caroline Fayard says if elected, she’ll do what is right for the people of Louisiana.
“I, like many of you, am very tired of career politicians who keep kicking the can down the road because that’s just as far as they can see,” Fayard said.
Fayard says after the last two weeks of violence in Louisiana, the public needs someone in Washington who can help resolve the division that’s ripping communities apart.
“The federal government needs to be a partner with local law enforcement and local communities in order to facilitate conversations and provide adequate resources so people do not get into situations where there’s tragedy on both sides,” Fayard said.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell says he is running for office because he wants to represent the people’s interest instead of the special interest groups. He says Louisiana should be the richest state in the South, but we aren’t because politicians have done a poor job representing the people.
“We’ve got all these natural resources and yet we’re down there with Mississippi. It makes no sense about it at all. The only reason is our politicians haven’t represented the people’s interests, they’ve represented the special interests,” Campbell said.
Campbell says he is proud of the work he has done so far representing the people and wants to continue that. Governor John Bel Edwards recently endorsed Campbell in the race. Campbell says he wants to represent Louisiana in Washington.
“I want to go to Washington to work with John Bel Edwards and everybody else in Louisiana to get our state on the right road again. We need better roads, better schools, better air, better hospitals,” Campbell said.
The Governor’s office hosts a blood drive today in honor of the three law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the ambush in Baton Rouge on Sunday.
Deputy Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office of Programs and Planning Johnny Anderson says they wanted to show support and come together during this difficult time in our state. He says they wanted to provide a gift to the community.
“We thought this could make a significant difference after what has happened to the law enforcement officers, what has happened to Mr. Sterling, if he needed blood, and anyone who is needing blood in these pressing times.”
Governor John Bel Edwards will also be personally participating in the blood drive with LifeShare. Anderson hopes state employees and anyone in Baton Rouge will come out to the donation bus outside the State Capitol from 8:30 am until 2:30 pm.
“This is one way to get involved. It’s a simple step but it’s a very important step in making sure that you help to save lives. In many instances you help to save lives by donating blood.”
Anderson says this is the first step in having the community come together as we try to heal.
“We believe that if you get people coming together and working together and starting the healing process in our community, we will be able to be a stronger community.”
The State Department of Revenue has announced that the Louisiana solar energy tax credit program has already reached its limit. The LDR says consumers buying residential solar energy systems from this point on should not expect to receive any tax credits from the state.
President of Solar Alternatives Jeff Cantin says this means around 2,000 families will not get this credit now.
“When the law was changed, the terms of it did not account for people who had already installed that year, up until the first half of the year. All the funding that had been set up in the program for following years was quickly gobbled up.”
Cantin says even though future purchasers will not get any tax credits from the state, they can always look for federal tax credits.
“No matter how much you put into solar, a 30% credit is still out there so anyone who wants to do solar can still do it. They can get someone to put an estimate for them, put it on their roof and take a 30% federal tax credit, it’s been a very reliable program.”
Cantin says families were really depending on the financial reimbursement after buying expensive equipment to utilize solar energy. He says this also hurts businesses who install solar products.
“We’ve lost probably 80% of our employees and our business in the last year, as a result, not just of the change in the credit but the retroactive change. I think it just spooked a lot of people.”
The St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office has arrested a man accused of making threats against police officers on social media. Sheriff Greg Champagne says they received reports on Monday, following the deadly rampage against officers the prior day in Baton Rouge, that a man by the name of Victor "Life of Crime" Pablo indicated he planned a similar ambush.
"He was basically making statements that in a little while St. Charles deputies were getting it next," said Champagne.
Champagne says the suspect is being charged with terrorizing and threatening a public official, which carries up to a maximum of 15 years in prison. He says this type of hateful rhetoric, especially during such tense times, that will not be tolerated.
"It has no place in a civilized society. It is only serving to keep people in fear," said Champagne.
The post essentially read, "In a little while cops in St. Charles are going to be next. I hope they kill every last one of them." Champagne says in light of the recent events in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the threat was not only considered serious and dangerous, but it is also a violation of law.
"Whether or not there was an intent to follow through that's not the point," said Champagne. "The point is the statement itself violates the terrorizing statute."