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Hanna: Senate candidates should speak up

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There’s a race underway in Louisiana for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Don’t be embarrassed if you weren’t aware of it.
By and large, the Senate race has gone unnoticed by the general public. That’s a fair assessment of the interest in the race if you’ve had the occasion to engage in a discussion about politics with a neighbor or a close friend or possibly a gas station attendant. It seems everyone knows about the presidential race, and it seems there aren’t many undecided voters on that one here in northeastern Louisiana. Suffice it to say that Donald Trump will prevail by a comfortable margin in our neck of the woods.

The point is the race for the Senate is eerily quiet and that’s the case because the candidates aren’t saying much and when they do talk, they aren’t taking much of a position on anything.

Think about it.

A whopping 20-plus candidates qualified a couple of months ago for the race to name Sen. David Vitter’s successor. Vitter opted not to seek re-election.

Can you name the four prominent Republicans in the race? What about the two “big” Democrats?

For all practical purposes, state Treasurer John Kennedy of Zachary is the Republican to beat among the Republicans. Congressmen Charles Boustany of Lafayette and John Fleming of Minden are trying to knock Kennedy from his perch. Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness of Covington is in the mix among the Republicans, too, though he’s not exactly setting the woods on fire.

On the other side of the fence are two well-financed Democrats battling one another for a shot to take on Kennedy or some other Republican in the December run-off. They are Caroline Fayard of New Orleans and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Elm Grove. Josh Pellerin of Broussard is another Democrat who’s making waves but only because he’s wealthy and is spending a lot of money.

SAM HANNAThe horse race, though, on the Democratic side of the ledger is between Fayard and Campbell.

Considering what’s at stake, it seems only prudent the voting public should know more about the Senate candidates, particularly where each one of them stands on some very important issues facing the nation.

What are their ideas on spurring the economy? Do any of them believe taxes should be cut? What about tax increases? If so, who or what should be subjected to a tax increase and by how much? What about illegal immigration? What about “sanctuary cities?” Should the United States open its borders to some 400,000 Syrian refugees, as President Obama favors? How should the U.S. government deal with the war on terror? Do they support hunting down radical Muslim extremists in America and deporting them? If not, why?

What about the Black Lives Matter movement? Do any of these Senate candidates believe it’s okay for a particular race of people to engage in violent behavior toward law enforcement officers because they feel they’ve been “wronged” by the police?

And finally, whom are these Senate candidates going to vote for in the presidential race? To my knowledge, Maness is the only Republican who openly supports Trump. Where do Kennedy and Boustany and Fleming stand? What about the other, minor Republican candidates in the race?

It’s understandable that Fayard and Campbell and Pellerin are supporting Hillary Clinton, but I don’t recall reading or hearing anything about these Democrats waving the Clinton flag. It’s a particularly tricky proposition for Campbell because he’s trying to make inroads among blue-collar white voters, who, the polls tell us, are in Trump’s corner, not Clinton’s. Still, who’s Campbell going to vote for? Clinton or Trump?

Serving in the U.S. Senate is a very important job. It’s prestigious. It’s also a very influential position.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make an informed decision before we choose a man or woman to represent us in the most powerful legislative body in the world?

Sam Hanna Jr. is publisher of The Ouachita Citizen, and he serves in an editorial/management capacity with The Concordia Sentinel and The Franklin Sun. He can be reached at samhannajr@samhannajr.com