BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s candidates were trying to stir up enthusiasm ahead of Saturday’s election, seeking to persuade people to cast ballots in a runoff expected to draw less than a third of registered voters.
A U.S. Senate and two U.S. House sets remain to be decided, the last congressional races in the nation.
Republican Senate candidate John Kennedy drew star power for his closing argument Friday from President-elect Donald Trump, who headlined a Baton Rouge rally urging voters to support Kennedy, the state treasurer.
Democratic Senate candidate Foster Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission, spent Friday having a barbecue lunch with supporters in Alexandria, before heading to a union hall in Lake Charles.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Saturday and close at 8 p.m.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler predicted turnout could dip below 30 percent – compared to 68 percent last month in the presidential election. Schedler encouraged participation, saying: “There are still many important elections to be decided in our state.”
National Democratic organizations have largely written off the Senate race to fill the seat of retiring Republican David Vitter, assuming Kennedy will win in a state that heavily supported Trump. A Kennedy victory would secure a 52-48 edge for the GOP in the new term.
In his fifth term as treasurer, Kennedy said President Barack Obama’s health law “sucks,” Congress has wasted too many taxpayer dollars and he was running because “I want my country back.” He hit Campbell for supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.
“If you took Secretary Clinton and turned her upside down and shook her, Foster Campbell would fall out of her pocket,” Kennedy said.
Trump called Kennedy a “good guy” and proven leader.
“If he doesn’t win, I’ve got myself a problem in Washington, because it’s pretty close,” Trump said. “We need John Kennedy in the Senate to help enact our agenda.”
Though polls showed Kennedy with a double-digit lead, Campbell said Trump’s visit proved the race is tight.
“It’s not like they would like you to believe. Mr. Kennedy is close or he wouldn’t have Mr. Trump coming here,” Campbell said.
A former state senator, Campbell ran a populist campaign, supporting a minimum wage hike, equal pay legislation and lawsuits against the oil industry for coastal erosion damage. He opposes abortion and efforts to repeal the federal health overhaul.
He accused Kennedy of being beholden to Wall Street donors and special interest groups and hit him for running for the Senate years ago as a liberal Democrat.
“I don’t have anything real slick to say and real fancy. I just am what I am, pretty plain, but I have a record of telling the truth and being consistent, just exactly the opposite of what Mr. Kennedy is,” Campbell said. “And I’ve never backed down from big fights.”
Two of Louisiana’s six U.S. House seats also are on the runoff ballot, for the Acadiana-based 3rd District and the northwest Louisiana-based 4th District.
In the 3rd District, both contenders are Republicans: Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, a political official in the region for nearly three decades, and former sheriff’s Capt. Clay Higgins, known as the “Cajun John Wayne” for his tough-talking Crime Stoppers videos.
The race became a barrage of attacks, with Higgins describing Angelle as part of a corrupt political establishment. Angelle repeated allegations Higgins illegally used resources at the sheriff’s office to make money for himself and hasn’t paid years of back-owed child support.
In the 4th District runoff between Republican state Rep. Mike Johnson and Democratic lawyer Marshall Jones, Johnson ran on his background in social conservative causes while Jones ran as a moderate Democrat who could work across party lines.
WHAT’S ON YOUR BALLOT?
Also remaining to be decided are municipal races around the state and propositions in 44 parishes. Sample ballots are available from the secretary of state’s Geaux Vote app or at http://www.sos.la.gov .
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.