WASHINGTON — Newcomer Libertarian Clay Grant and former gubernatorial candidate Ron Ceasar are the only people standing in the way of Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, winning re-election Nov. 6 to the congressional 5th District seat.
Ceasar is riding the more recent wave of futilely attempting to recall Gov. Bobby Jindal, then running against him for governor.
The no-party candidate also is suing Jindal for discrimination by alleging the recent congressional redistricting was used as means to suppress the minority vote. The redistricting placed Ceasar’s hometown, of Opelousas, into the same district as Alexander’s that includes much of central and northeastern Louisiana.
Boyce resident Grant is a 31-year-old political novice who wants to shake up Congress and send the long-term incumbent home. Alexander has served in Congress for a decade and accomplished little, Grant says.
“I just decided I guess I have to get off my butt and try and do it because no one else is,” Grant said. “I’m going to stir some feathers.”
Neither candidate has much campaign funding nor do they have major party backing, but they refuse to concede.
“I’m going to surprise the incumbent,” Ceasar said. “I have name recognition from running for governor last year.”
That campaign for governor that won him less than 1 percent of the vote also is costing him $2,500 in penalties assessed last month for belatedly filing financial disclosure reports.
Ceasar, who is a former Democrat, said his hope is to win much of the vote in the southern parts of the district and for Grant to siphon off enough independent and conservative votes from Alexander to help push Ceasar into a runoff.
Ceasar first ran for Congress in 1994 and is still plugging away.
“The incumbent is going to sleep because he thinks he has it wrapped up,” Ceasar said.
Ceasar compared himself with former Gov. Buddy Roemer because both are pro-2nd Amendment former Democrats who are running as reformers. Roemer sneaked up on everyone when he won the governor’s office, Ceasar said.
Grant said he is running as a true Libertarian on everything except his anti-abortion rights views.
He was interested in running against Alexander for a year or so but it did not initially seem like it would work out, Grant said.
The Libertarian Party of Louisiana finally turned to the young, small-business owner about a week before qualifying after another potential Libertarian candidate decided not to run.
“Without hesitation, I said ‘yes,’ ” Grant said. “It was like a sign.”
Grant said he is critical of Alexander for voting for the national defense authorization bill that, in part, allows for the indefinite holding of Americans suspected of terrorism.
Alexander too often votes against constitutional rights and privacy protections, Grant said.
Grant said he wants to help reduce a lot of things: the size of government, the federal deficit and congressional salaries. He said he wants to bring more openness to the congressional process.
“There’s no transparency,” he said. “Everything is done behind closed doors.”
Members of Congress should face term limits of no more than eight years, Grant said. No one should serve longer than a two-term president, he said.
“At some point, it’s time to go home,” he said of Alexander. “You do your job (for eight years) and you go home.”
Grant, a former Republican, said he is fed up with both major parties.
“They’re two sides of the same coin. That’s all it is,” he said.
Federal spending was too out of control under George W. Bush and it remains so under President Barack Obama, he said.
As a Libertarian, Grant wants to reduce the size of federal government and limit the nation’s interventions in foreign disputes.
Socially, he supports ending the war on drugs and legalizing both marijuana and gay marriage.
A key issue where Grant differs from his party is that he is anti-abortion rights, he said.
As a small-business owner, he said, he wants to put the middle class and small businesses first.
Even those people who enter Congress with good intentions end up being corrupted by the money, Grant said, arguing he will “live by” ensuring that does not occur to him.
Grant said he knows his chances are slim of even getting into a runoff, but he said he wants to give it a shot and this may just be the beginning of his political career.
“It’s a little difficult. Not that many people know me,” he said. “But ever since I’ve been probably about 15 years old, I’ve been really intrigued with politics.”
As for Ceasar, he said he is running — and suing — not just for him but for the voting rights of the people forced into a district that is mostly northeastern Louisiana.
“A lot of people in St. Landry are just learning they vote with the people in Monroe,” Ceasar said of the redistricting results. “It’s been carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey.”
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