Five of the 24 candidates for US Senate will go head to head tonight in the first statewide televised debate of the race. Republicans Charles Boustany, John Fleming and John Kennedy, along with Democrats Foster Campbell and Caroline Fayard are the candidates who will participate tonight.

ULM political science professor Dr. Joshua Stockley says this will give voters an opportunity to hear from them in a more spontaneous fashion.

“You have five individuals who really want to put a strong, positive, indelible impression into the voter’s mind in an attempt to distinguish themselves from the rest of the candidates,” Stockley said.
The debate begins at 7 PM on LPB and will broadcast from Louisiana Tech. Kennedy and Boustany have been attacking each other during the race. Boustany has even accused Kennedy of spreading allegations that Boustany was involved with prostitutes. Stockley says we will likely see more of that hostility in tonight’s showdown.

“I would expect the ongoing yet somewhat subtle feud about the allegations to pop up. I expect the sniping between these individuals to continue,” Stockley said.

Stockley says the attacks won’t be limited to the GOP candidates. He says Campbell and Fayard will each have to pitch themselves as the best Democrat for the job, as they’re fighting to make it into the runoff, since it’s doubtful two Democrats will make it.

“Expect them to try to stay away from the Republican in fighting and to actually do what their advertisements have done this far, pick on each other,” Stockley said.

Meanwhile, with 24 candidates in the US Senate race, it may come as a surprise that many Louisiana voters struggle to name even one. We asked Louisiana residents if they knew any of the two dozen candidates.

“Can we name any of them? No, I cannot, honestly no,” one woman responded.

Another man replied, “Boustany, I see the commercials. Not much after that, no.”

The sidewalk pop quiz comes just ahead of tonight’s first statewide televised debate, which airs at 7pm on LPB. Some respondents were familiar with one candidate, but more for his controversial past than his current campaign.

“I know David Duke is running for something, right?” another woman said, “After that sadly, no I don’t know anybody else.”

Analysts have said that voters are paying much more attention to what’s happening with presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This woman says it’s not surprising voters are not tuned into the Senate race.

“I think the presidential race is definitely overshadowing a lot with its tremendous media coverage, and maybe our guys do need to spend some money and speak up some more,” the woman said.