Shreveport mayor enters race against US Sen. Bill Cassidy
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy drew the first high-profile challenger to his reelection bid Wednesday, when Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins announced his last-minute entrance into Louisiana’s Senate race as the candidate signup period began.
All of Louisiana’s incumbent members for Congress who are running for a new term drew challengers on the Nov. 3 ballot by the end of the first day of qualifying.
Perkins planned to file his registration paperwork Thursday.
The Democratic mayor of the northwest Louisiana city, in office since December 2018, launched his campaign with an introductory video describing his Army career, including his graduation from the U.S. military academy at West Point and his deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Perkins said Washington’s poor handling of the coronavirus outbreak persuaded him to jump into the Senate race.
“I’m running for United States Senate because our country and state are at a crossroads. We face a virus that threatens our lives, our safety and our economy, but Washington’s political games are only making us sick,” Perkins, a lawyer, said in a statement. “Together, we can demand a government that serves all of our people, not just the wealthy and well-connected.”
He joins at least four other contenders trying to oust Cassidy, who is favored for reelection. But Perkins is the only one in elected office, with a natural platform for fundraising. Still, the Shreveport mayor faces a difficult road — taking on a Republican incumbent in a red state who has millions of dollars in the bank. Perkins will need to raise cash quickly to be a viable challenger.
Perkins’ entrance into the competition drew widespread attention as he immediately became the Democratic candidate to watch, even though another Democrat — Antoine Pierce of Baton Rouge — has been running for more than a year.
Pierce, a community organizer who owned a coffee shop shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic, said his campaign won’t be disrupted by Perkins’ unexpected jump into the Senate race.
“I’m undeterred. This isn’t something we decided to do three months ahead of early voting,” Pierce said.
Other candidates who signed up to challenge Cassidy include John Paul Bourgeois, an epidemiologist and public health librarian at the LSU medical school in New Orleans who has no party affiliation. The first-time candidate said he was spurred to run against Cassidy because of the senator’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“He voted to undermine protections for the weakest among us,” Bourgeois said.
All five Louisiana congressmen who are running for another term signed up for their reelection bids Wednesday. Republican Reps. Steve Scalise, Clay Higgins, Mike Johnson and Garret Graves and Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond each had someone else file their registration paperwork while they remained in Washington for congressional work.
Seven candidates qualified for the 5th Congressional District seat, which is open because Republican incumbent Ralph Abraham isn’t seeking another term in office.
Louisiana’s candidate registration period runs through Friday.
Cassidy, a doctor from Baton Rouge, is seeking a second six-year term after defeating three-term Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu in a hard-fought, expensive race in 2014. This time, he’s the advantaged candidate, with a sizable campaign account and high name recognition to bolster his campaign.
Cassidy reported $6 million in his latest finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission. No other candidate reported more than a few thousand dollars on hand.
In the Senate, Cassidy has been a reliable conservative Republican vote and a policy wonk who often works on health care issues. He’s won praise from President Donald Trump as a go-to senator for his health care knowledge — and the president has endorsed Cassidy’s reelection bid.
Other candidates who registered for the Senate race include Derrick Edwards, a lawyer and Democrat from Harvey who’s run unsuccessfully for several statewide seats, and David Drew Knight, a restaurant manager and Democrat from New Orleans.
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