Fighting uphill battle, Foster Campbell paints himself as a populist

    U.S. Senate candidate Foster Campbell, stressing his idiosyncratic identity as a Democrat and a populist, attacked opponent John Kennedy today as a flip-flopping former liberal and identified areas with which his views align with President-elect Donald Trump.

    Campbell, a Public Service Commissioner, is facing Kennedy, the state’s Republican treasurer, in a runoff election for the last open U.S. Senate seat. He spoke to the Press Club of Baton Rouge today during an event Kennedy declined to attend due to a scheduling conflict.

    Kennedy’s campaign staff did not respond to requests for comment from Daily Report before this afternoon’s publication.

    Campbell, a north Louisiana Democrat, told the Press Club he agrees with Trump on opposing trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, implementing term limits on members of Congress and increasing infrastructure spending, which he said could put thousands of Louisianans to work.

    And much like Kennedy has done, Campbell painted himself as an outsider willing to fight against the Washington, D.C., establishment and special interests.

    “I’ll help (Trump) when he’s right. But if he wants to privatize Social Security, if he wants to privatize Medicare, there’s no way in the world (I would help him),” Campbell said. “If he wants to appoint Bobby Jindal to a cabinet position … I could never vote for Bobby Jindal for any cabinet position.”

    Citing Trump’s flip-flop on global warming, Campbell said he agrees with the president-elect on the idea that humans are contributing to a warming of the planet.

    Trump recently said, in an interview with The New York Times reporters and editors, that there is “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, but qualified his remarks by raising the issue of the cost of curbing carbon emissions on American companies.

    Kennedy also has tied himself to Trump, with one television advertisement professing his support for Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and to make Mexico pay for it.

    While lauding what he said has been grassroots support for his campaign from all over the country, Campbell also chided the national Democratic Party for not contributing to his campaign. Republicans currently hold at least 51 seats in the Senate, and a Kennedy win would push them to 52.

    “The (national) Democratic party is missing in action,” he said. “That’s fine, because the people are in action all across America,” he continued, citing small-dollar support from throughout the country and saying he will take “all the help” he can get.

    A spokesperson for Campbell’s campaign declined to disclose fundraising figures. The campaigns are required to file their most recent campaign finance reports today. The reports will be released tomorrow.

    University of Louisiana-Monroe Political Science Professor Joshua Stockley said in an interview before the primary election he did not expect national Democrats to campaign for Campbell, and that has largely proven true.

    While a groundswell of support from voters nationally could boost Campbell’s campaign, Stockley said today the Democrat needs a “perfect storm” to win. Such a storm might include a scandal involving Kennedy, pushing a defining issue with voters, winning public support from influential people or receiving more resources for campaign advertising.

    “If all of those things converge and occur at the same time, he might make have a chance at making it a narrowly competitive race,” he said.

    Still, Campbell insisted to a crowd of media professionals today that he’s still in the race, battling furiously to defeat a man he painted as an enabler of Jindal and to ensure voters in an increasingly Republican state he is not beholden to the Democratic Party.

    “I am a populist. And I am not ashamed of it,” Campbell said. “You’re gonna be surprised.”

    Early voting began Saturday and will continue until Dec. 3.

    —Sam Karlin

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