Some candidates have an edge in a crowded race for the US Senate

Some candidates have an edge in a crowded race for the US Senate

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The field to replace David Vitter in the U.S. Senate is a crowded and diverse one, with two dozen candidates.

That includes nine Republicans, seven Democrats, and eight other contenders not affiliated with the major parties.

"It's one of the largest fields we have and I think it's because of the disillusionment people have with politics," said Clay Young, a political and media consultant.

Young said a handful of candidates already have an early edge.

"I think at the top of the heap you've got Treasurer Kennedy," Young said.

John Kennedy is among the better known of the 24 candidates. Other household names, including Congressmen Charles Boustany and John Flemming, are also likely fundraisers.

However, LSU Professor Robert Mann said one surprise entrant – riding on the coattails of recent racial tensions in Louisiana – could cause a headache for those other candidates.

"You've got a large crowd of Republicans all fighting over about 55 percent of the vote. If [David] Duke was able to sweep in and capitalize on some of the anger, frustration the Donald Trump supporters are feeling, he could surprise you," Mann said.

Young, meanwhile, downplays the potential Duke impact.

"Picking a fight with David Duke is likely to get you a lot of attention, but probably not a whole lot in the ways of votes, because he's not considered a serious candidate," Young said.

On the Democratic side, there are two main contenders, making it easier for one of them to get through the primary to the runoff. Added to that, Mann said that because the vote coincides with the presidential election, more voters may come to the polls, including African-American Democrats who support Hillary Clinton. That, Mann said, could help Democrats secure a seat in the runoff.

The two main candidates are Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and New Orleans lawyer Caroline Fayard. Mann said Democrats appear to be combining their support behind Campbell, who has already secured the endorsement of fellow Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards.

"That doesn't mean he can't fall through, that doesn't mean Caroline Fayard can't give him a run for his money. She's proven she's a pretty good candidate and can raise money, but having the governor on your side is something you would want to have, especially a governor that's as popular and respected as John Bel Edwards is," Mann said.

The question remains as to how the other relatively unknown candidates break through, especially in such a crowded field. Part of breaking through involves creating an effective message. However, there is much more on top of that.

"It's about the amount of people you can hire, it's about the kind of infrastructure you can build, and the amount you can spend on television and radio and getting your message out," Young said.

While the primary is in tandem with the primary, the runoff election is not, meaning turnout will likely be lower. Mann said that will likely benefit Republicans.

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