The two incumbent congressmen were forced to run against each other in the Nov. 6 open primary election to represent southwestern Louisiana because of congressional redistricting.
WASHINGTON — After weeks of attack ads and miscommunication, U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry have agreed to a final debate on Halloween.
Boustany, R-Lafayette, and Landry, R-New Iberia, announced Thursday they agreed to a radio debate at 5 p.m. Wednesday on KPEL 96.5 FM in Lafayette to be moderated by Jeremy Lawrence, the station’s program director.
The two incumbent congressmen were forced to run against each other in the Nov. 6 open primary election to represent southwestern Louisiana because of congressional redistricting. Louisiana is losing a seat in Congress beginning in January because of slow population growth.
Democrat Ron Richard, Republican Bryan Barrilleaux and Libertarian Jim Stark, all of Lake Charles, also are in the race.
At this point, only Boustany and Landry are participating in the debate, Lawrence said.
Boustany and Landry both participated in candidate forums in Crowley and Franklin.
Another debate was scheduled for Oct. 15 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, but the event was canceled after Boustany’s campaign was inadvertently left out of three weeks of event-planning emails, during which time Richard dropped out and the debate format was changed.
Boustany’s campaign refused efforts to reschedule the university debate, arguing that Boustany’s campaign schedule was too full. Landry then attacked Boustany by arguing he was afraid to face him.
That changed Thursday with the new debate after Boustany said he wanted to face Landry about what he called months of lies from Landry about Boustany’s record.
Boustany’s campaign manager, John Porter, also added that an hour opened up Wednesday on their campaign schedule, allowing the debate to occur.
“Since his first speech announcing his campaign for re-election, Jeff Landry has continued to distort the facts and lie about my record,” Boustany said in the debate announcement. “In light of Jeff’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the fact that he has continually lied to the hard-working families of south Louisiana, I challenge Jeff to meet me for a public, on-air debate. This forum will give voters the opportunity to see if Jeff Landry is as dishonest to our faces as he has been behind our backs.”
It did not take long for Landry to offer a strong response.
“I am pleased the voters will finally get a chance to hear Mr. Boustany back up his harsh, negative, false rhetoric in person,” Landry said. “It is unfortunate that Boustany picked Halloween night, as I had carved out just a little time with my wife and son in the middle of this campaign; but I will allow him to break into this family time so the voters can finally hear him attempt to defend his liberal record in person.”
As for Landry’s alleged lies, Boustany has cried foul on tea-party-related advertisements that falsely accused him of not signing the so-called Taxpayer Protection Pledge to never back tax increases. Boustany has signed the pledge.
The pamphlets were jointly created by the Tea Party of Lafayette, now called Geaux Free TPL, which is backing Landry, R-New Iberia, and the Washington, D.C.-based Super PAC, FreedomWorks for America.
The leadership of Geaux Free TPL has called the false ad an accidental error and has retracted the pamphlets.
Boustany also has unsuccessfully sought to have television stations pull advertisements from Landry that state Boustany supports “80 percent” of “Obamacare.” The commercial dates back to an interview Boustany did with MSNBC before the president’s Affordable Care Act was voted on.
At the time, Boustany said Republicans and Democrats agreed with close to 80 percent of what was on the table, but not any specific legislation.
Boustany, who has given opposition speeches to the health care law, has asserted he was only talking about agreeing on broader issues like more preventive care and cheaper health care costs.
Brent Littlefield, Landry’s campaign consultant, has said Boustany is lying in attack ads that falsely accuse Landry of backing tax increases and that he does not fully support the oil-and-gas industry.
Landry also has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and has advocated for expanding oil-and-gas drilling domestically and offshore.