Sen. Kennedy suggests critics of police ‘call a crackhead’ in new ad; some think line goes too far

A new political advertisement for the 2022 Louisiana Senate Race has people talking. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Kennedy released the ad.
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 6:59 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new political advertisement for the 2022 United States Senate election in Louisiana has people talking.

Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Kennedy released his third televised ad of his re-election campaign recently.

One line in the ad is being shared across social media. The senator says, “Look, if you hate cops just because they’re cops, the next time you’re in trouble, call a crackhead.”

A spokesperson with Kennedy’s campaign says, “The ad outlines Kennedy’s record of fighting crime, supporting law enforcement, and working to make Louisiana communities safe. Kennedy has an extensive track record of combatting crime and was recently endorsed by the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association.”

“Violent crime is surging in Louisiana. Woke leaders blame the police. I blame the criminals. I voted against the early release of violent criminals, and I opposed defunding the police because I know the difference between criminals and their innocent victims,” said Kennedy in the new political advertisement.

But some people think the “crackhead” line in the advertisement goes a little overboard.

“The fact that something like that would be said to make fun of people who are dying with everything that’s going on in our community,” said Tonja Myles. “Being a person in recovery and being an ex-crackhead, I was very offended, and I thought that went too far.”

You’ve probably heard of Tonja Myles’ journey before. She’s a certified peer support specialist, as well as a substance abuse and mental health advocate here in the Baton Rouge area.

Myles first posted a video response to the new campaign ad, on her Facebook page Sunday.

“I was appalled, I was triggered, I was mad, I was sad, and I was hurt. I had just walked in my house from having a conversation with a mom, who just lost her son to a fentanyl overdose. Who was using crack cocaine and some other drugs and did not know fentanyl was in it,” said Myles.

Before WAFB was set to interview Tonja Monday afternoon, she says someone from Senator John Kennedy’s office actually called her.

“They wanted to have a conversation and I told them I will get back with them. Because that’s a conversation I don’t mind having. And I told them I don’t mind having the conversation, but my ask is still going to be the same, take it down,” said Myles.

Myles still believes the senator could have used a different term. Especially with the high overdose rates in the Greater Baton Rouge area.

“And we wonder why people don’t come out and talk about addiction or talk about mental health in our community, because of things like this. And we have to do better,” said Myles.

A spokesperson with the senator’s campaign says, the ad touts his ‘extensive track record of combatting crime.’

“Kennedy voted to support law enforcement and keep violent criminals, including rapists and murderers, behind bars. Kennedy has consistently opposed radical efforts to defund and disrespect the police. Kennedy has helped pass laws to aggressively prosecute sexual predators,” that news release from Kennedy’s campaign stated, along with other examples of what the senator has accomplished during his time in Washington D.C.

But a lot of people across Louisiana believe Senator Kennedy just tells it like it is, and that’s why they support him.

“President Trump once said that he could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and still win an election. I think John Kennedy can talk about crackheads and weed killer all day long and still win an election,” said WAFB political analyst Jim Engster.

12 other candidates are trying to unseat Kennedy.

That includes Democrats Gary Chambers and Luke Mixon, who are already attacking the recent ad by the senator.

“We have to address violent crime. We do that by funding our police departments. Senator Kennedy voted against $350 billion in funding for local police departments. To paraphrase Senator Kennedy, watch what people do, not just their embarrassing one-liners,” said Luke Mixon (D), candidate for U.S. Senate.

In a video posted on twitter, Gary Chambers Jr. (D) called the senator a ‘Walking dog whistle.’

“But it’s also racist as hell, and he didn’t say nothing about opioid addicts, meth addicts, none of that other stuff. Because he was trying to talk about a specific sub-set of people, that he doesn’t give a damn about serving in Louisiana,” said Chambers in the social media video.

“Right now, John Kennedy can say just about anything he wants and he’s headed for re-election. The question is whether he’ll be in the governor’s race next year,” said Engster.

There’s still no word on if Senator Kennedy will chose to face his challengers in a debate.

“We don’t have any announcements to make at this time,” said Jess Andrews, Communications Director for U.S. Senator John N. Kennedy on Monday.

And political analyst Jim Engster does not expect him to debate.

“The only way he would debate potentially would be in a runoff and even that would be highly doubtful. So John Kennedy with five weeks to go, can say anything he wants. And he’s good at soundbites and he’s showing it. And look for him to be around for a long time, at least six more years,” said Engster.

Engster says Kennedy has already raised more than $40 million, and there’s a good chance he could win with more than 60% of the votes in five weeks.

“He’s a senator who’s popular in Louisiana, and it would take a cataclysmic collapse for him to lose this race,” he said.

The primary election is set for November 8.

Early voting begins on October 25.

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