|U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany|
[Update: The debate proposed for Oct. 29 has been cancelled. According to Dr. Robert Buckman, Dean Jordan Kellman put the kibosh on the event today, issuing the following statement: "Just to confirm: there will be no University-sponsored debate among the candidates in the current phase of the 3rd/7th district congressional race. The plans for a possible October 29th debate have been cancelled, and no other plans are underway."]
It’s the question of the day as U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany declines what appears to be another good-faith effort to get him and his main rival, U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry — along with the other three candidates in the Nov. 6 election — on stage at the same time for a debate. How you make that chicken noise? Bruk-bruk?
Most of are aware by now that miscommunication between the journalism and political science departments — epic miscommunication — led to a cancellation of the debate that was supposed to take place last Monday in the Angelle Hall auditorium on the UL Lafayette campus. Each department evidently believed the other was making arrangements with the various campaigns and keeping them updated on progress but somehow Boustany’s people were left out of the loop for nearly three weeks and, in what some are beginning to believe was a case of political paranoia that has Tricky Dick kicking in his grave, concluded that Prof. Robert Buckman of the journalism department was somehow conspiring with Landry’s tea party minions to set up Dr. Boustany. That wasn’t the case. By any stretch.
On Friday, in a effort to salvage a public service and get the candidates talking about the issue at the same time before a panel of journalists and in a public forum, Buckman emailed the five contestants in the November election:
The responsibility for planning the Oct. 15 debate should never have been divided between two academic departments. That’s not going to happen again. There was an unfortunate but unintentional breakdown in communication, and an excellent opportunity for a debate was lost and much time and effort went down the drain. But this is no time to be playing a blame game or crying over spilled milk. Time is running out. I hope you would agree with me that the voters are entitled to hear the candidates debate. I am going to try again to do what I attempted to do in August, before I was told that a debate was already being planned and would be aired live on KATC. I then acquiesced and was relegated to finding a venue, then when the live broadcast fell through, it fell upon me to organize a panel, which I did. Now, I need to know your willingness to make this happen and what your expectations would be.
The email was sent just before 7 p.m. Shortly after, representatives for Rep. Landry and Ron Richard, the Lake Charles Democrat, confirmed that their candidates would be available and eager to participate at 2 p.m., Oct. 29, the time/date proposed by Buckman. By Sunday Buckman confirmed via email that the two remaining candidates in the race — Bryan Barrilleaux, a Lake Charles Republican, and Jim Stark, an LC Libertarian — had also agreed.
But shortly before Buckman emailed the confirmation on Sunday, Camp Boustany issued a press release titled, “Congressman Boustany Not Afraid To Debate”:
Dr. Boustany has been involved in 2 debates with all the other candidates. Our campaign worked with ULL for several weeks to come up with the date and this campaign did every single thing in its power to make that debate a reality. However, other parties derailed those efforts. Dr. Boustany’s schedule is full of meetings with constituents he’s already committed to seeing. It’s a shame for the people of South Louisana the debate was cancelled due to the mishandling of the organizers.
Dr. Boustany would love to debate Jeff Landry in front of Rouse’s grocery store in Lafayette, where Jeff Landry supports a 23% tax increase on the goods inside. Perhaps at the Louisiana Board of Ethics Administration where a panel of Landry’s colleagues refused granting him a seat to that body by likening his appointment to, ‘Bonnie & Clyde’s appointment on a bank board.
Hmmm... The campaign doth protest too much wethinks.
Contacted Monday for a clarification on whether Sunday’s press release meant there would be no more joint appearances between Boustany and other candidates before Nov. 6, Boustany Campaign Manager John Porter confirmed that was the case. Although he declined to speak on record, Porter did issue this statement to IND Monthly late Monday morning:
Based on the issues of the past several days, we don’t believe Dr. Buckman’s organization of this event will lend to a credible, well run, unbiased forum. We were fully prepared to participate in our third debate, the ULL debate, but they cancelled it. If they were not able to pull this off in a fair manner in two months, I certainly don’t have faith they can do so in 14 days. Simply put, the Washington DC interests groups, like Freedom Works, attempt to hijack this debate is very disappointing. Jeff Landry should be held accountable to the people of this district for the actions of these DC groups who have moved into town to run his campaign.
So, that’s that.