Former rivals endorse within party ranks in Senate race


MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press

 

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell received backing Tuesday for his runoff campaign from a former rival who during the primary election linked him to white supremacist David Duke. Republican contender John Kennedy got the support of a one-time competitor who had accused Kennedy of spreading false prostitution allegations against him.

Democrat Caroline Fayard, the fourth-place finisher in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race, endorsed Campbell at a time when politicians are putting aside internal disputes to line up behind their parties’ candidates in the Dec. 10 runoff. On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who finished third in the primary, continued GOP efforts to unify behind Kennedy for the Senate seat.

The competition between Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer, and Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission from north Louisiana, had been particularly bitter ahead of this month’s Senate primary election. The attacks created sharp divisions among Democrats.

Campbell criticized Fayard’s family, her work on Wall Street and her wealth, accusing her of trying to buy a Senate seat. Fayard in return sought to tie Campbell to Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate seat, by showing Campbell in a photo shaking hands with Duke and by running an ad that used one of Campbell’s quotes out of context to make it seem like he agreed with Duke on issues. Campbell accused Fayard of race-baiting and called her a liar.

But by Tuesday, Fayard said she met with Campbell and described herself as “happy to stand with Democrats across our state and country in support of him.”

“After the setbacks suffered last week by the Democratic Party nationally,? it gives me great hope to know that Foster Campbell will protect President Obama’s legacy and fight for the same Democratic Party values that Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, myself, and so many others have championed,” Fayard said in a statement.

The endorsement appears as far as Fayard is willing to go, however. Campbell spokeswoman Mary-Patricia Wray said neither candidate apologized for the primary campaign trash-talking and Campbell doesn’t intend to feature Fayard in any advertising.

Among Republicans, Kennedy — the front-runner in the runoff competition — picked up the support of one-time rival Boustany, who during the campaign had blamed Kennedy for spreading allegations that Boustany was a client of prostitutes who were later killed.

Boustany described Kennedy as “desperate” during the primary, saying the treasurer was a “political predator” who has “no regard for the truth.” But on Tuesday, the GOP congressman issued a short statement urging his supporters to vote for Kennedy.

“Republicans who care about the future of our country need a Republican in the Senate who will work with Donald Trump to roll back the failed liberal policies of President Obama. I endorse John Kennedy,” Boustany said.

Kennedy also has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. John Fleming, who finished fifth in the Senate primary. Fleming had accused the treasurer during the campaign of so mismanaging the state’s finances that he should have been “fired a long time ago.”

In the primary, Fleming hit Kennedy for running years ago as a liberal Democrat and endorsing John Kerry for president. He claimed Kennedy was only pretending to be a conservative. Kennedy had slammed Fleming’s performance in Congress, calling him “the ultimate Washington insider” who didn’t change anything during his tenure.

By this week, the insults were replaced with kind words, with Fleming suggesting Kennedy was the best choice for conservatives.

“I will be proud to support John Kennedy because he is the one candidate who will work to bring fiscal sanity, repeal Obamacare and confirm constitutionalists to the Supreme Court,” Fleming said in a statement.

Kennedy described Fleming as doing “an outstanding job serving Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

The Senate seat is open because Republican David Vitter isn’t running for re-election. He’s endorsed Kennedy.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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