Six leading candidates face off in Raycom U.S. Senate debate

RAW: Raycom Media's U.S. Senate debate
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - All six candidates for Louisiana's open US Senate seat have agreed to participate in Raycom Media's debate Wednesday at Dillard University in New Orleans. The debate will be produced and carried LIVE from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on-air and streamed online.

John Kennedy (R), Foster Campbell (D), Caroline Fayard (D), Charles Boustany (R), John Fleming (R) and David Duke (R) have confirmed their participation in the Raycom debate.

Journalists from Raycom Media's Louisiana stations will ask questions and field answers from the candidates. John Snell, anchor and political reporter at WVUE-TV (FOX) in New Orleans, will be the debate moderator.  Panelists will be Greg Meriwether of WAFB-TV (CBS) in Baton Rouge, Doug Warner of KSLA-TV (CBS) in Shreveport, and Cynthia Arceneaux of KPLC-TV (NBC) in Lake Charles.

Candidates were invited to participate in the debate based on several criteria including garnering 5 percent support in a poll Raycom Media commissioned from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida. All candidates invited to participate met the criteria, including the 5 percent poll threshold which is a practice used by Raycom Media's Louisiana stations in past debates including last year's Louisiana Governor's debate.

"We are committed to producing a program that is fair and informative for Louisiana to choose their next U.S. Senator," said Vicki Zimmerman, Raycom Media Regional News Director.

Mason-Dixon fielded the survey October 17-19, 2016. A total of 625 registered Louisiana voters statewide were interviewed by phone. All said they were likely to vote in the November general election. The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ± 4 percentage points. No margin of error was factored into the 5 percent eligibility rule.

RELATED: Exclusive Poll: Kennedy leads candidates in US Senate race

Here are the poll results for qualifying candidates:

  • John Kennedy - Republican 24.2%
  • Foster Campbell - Democrat 18.9%
  • Caroline Fayard - Democrat 12.0%
  • Charles Boustany - Republican 11.4%
  • John Fleming - Republican 10.2%
  • David Duke - Republican 5.1%

In addition to polling at 5 percent or higher, here are the other criteria used for qualification:

  • Official qualification to run for the office
  • Public announcement of intent to run
  • Establishment of principal campaign committee
  • Establishment of campaign headquarters and staff

Viewers can watch the one-hour debate LIVE from 7-8 pm (CT) on WAFB-TV, WVUE-TV, KPLC-TV, KSLA-TV in Shreveport, KALB-TV's CW channel in Alexandria, and C-SPAN. It will also be live streamed on WAFB.com, Fox8live.com, KPLCTV.com and KSLA.com.

A record 515,000 voters made it to the polls in Louisiana for early voting this election year. They were deciding several races and issues including that race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by David Vitter.

The previous early voting record -- from the 2012 presidential election -- was 352,000 votes during the early voting period.

"Early voting this year has been truly amazing," said Meg Casper, press secretary for the Louisiana Secretary of State. "We've seen record numbers every day. We're averaging about 73,000 voters voting throughout the state every day. That's up from 2012 where we saw about 59,000."

RELATED: More than 500,000 cast early votes in Louisiana

December 8, 2016 has been chosen as a second debate in the event of a runoff. The time will remain 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. and will broadcast live on Raycom stations in Louisiana.

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