Sen. John Kennedy draws former Navy pilot as Democratic challenger

A commercial airline pilot and military veteran announced Tuesday that he’ll try to unseat U.S. Sen. John Kennedy in Louisiana’s 2022 election.

Luke Mixon, a 42-year-old Democrat who lives in Baton Rouge, says he’s trying to keep Kennedy from a second six-year term because he doesn’t believe the Republican senator has been representing Louisiana’s interests in Washington.

“Our infrastructure is crumbling and communities are flooding, but Sen. Kennedy voted against billions of dollars to improve our roads and protect Louisiana communities from natural disasters,” Mixon said in a statement. “Health care costs are bankrupting families, yet Sen. Kennedy voted to end coverage for over half a million hardworking people in our state.”

Mixon graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and piloted Navy jets for 17 years, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to his campaign announcement. He ended his military service in February, after working as the commanding officer of a Navy fighter squadron based in New Orleans.

Kennedy, Louisiana’s former state treasurer, is a formidable foe.

Polls show Kennedy is popular with voters, and he reported more than $8.6 million in his campaign account in the latest finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Former President Donald Trump, who received 58% of the vote in Louisiana in the 2020 presidential election, has endorsed Kennedy’s reelection bid.

The U.S. Senate election is scheduled for Nov. 8, 2022.