Controversial Louisiana Congressman Clay Higgins draws three opponents


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Louisiana Republican 3rd District U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, who courts controversy with his unfiltered videos and unapologetic views on “bacteria trap” masks, has drawn three challengers as he seeks a third term in Congress.

Democrat Rob Anderson of DeQuincy, Democrat Braylon Harris of Lake Charles and Libertarian Brandon Leleux of Lake Charles all qualified last week to face Higgins in the  Nov. 3 election.

Anderson is relying heavily on his impressive Twitter platform of more than 100,000 followers to tell his story and improve on his 2018 showing, when Anderson secured 5% of the vote in Higgins’ last win.

“I’ve amassed a huge social media platform,” Anderson said. “People are finding out they’re not alone.”

Harris has built a more traditional constituency as the leader of the Calcasieu Parish youth mentoring program, The Impact Agency, housed in the District Attorney’s office and supported by six other law enforcement agencies.

“I’m running to ensure the next generation has its best chance,” Harris said. “To do that we have to give them a great foundation, and ours is cracking.”

And Leleux is hoping voters make a rare retreat from the conventional two-party political infrastructure.

“We need to move back to the principles more closely related to our founders,” said Leleux, who works in the hospitality industry managing one of his family’s restaurants.

Higgins has been a target of the Louisiana Democratic Party, which last year said Higgins “continues to embarrass the state of Louisiana on the national stage.”

But even if Higgins can be a lightning rod for controversy, he remains a heavy favorite to retain his seat in the Republican stronghold of Acadiana.

The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Inside Elections all list the 3rd Congressional District as either “solid Republican” or “safe Republican.”

USA Today Network is seeking comment from Higgins about his reelection bid. The congressman qualified by proxy last week, as did all of his incumbent colleagues in the Louisiana delegation because they were working in Washington.

Most recently Higgins has railed against Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ mask mandate and other restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t care if you wear a mask or not. I care about your freedom,” Higgins tweeted last week. “My oath was to uphold our Constitution. Reflect upon the difference between your Constitutional freedoms and a Governor’s Proclamation. This Chinese virus will fade. Don’t let your liberty fade with it.”

Higgins has also been a reliable ally for President Donald Trump since both were first elected in 2016, and the president endorsed Higgins in his 2018 reelection bid.

When Trump was impeached by the Democrat-controlled House last year, Higgins called the articles of impeachment “absurdly weak.”

But Anderson said Higgins “hasn’t done much for this district, and he’s done nothing to help remediate the damage that oil companies have done (to the Louisiana coastline).”

“I’m here to represent the working class; he voted for a tax cut for the rich,” said Anderson, a writer of fiction and essays and former (oil platform) driller. “We need to address real problems like food deserts, mass public transportation, rural broadband, public Wi-Fi, raising the minimum wage to a living wage and affordable day care.”

Harris said he wants to “change the tone in Washington” and be a bridge for those he has mentored “so they can inherit a better world.”

“It’s a tough time in America,” Harris said. “I’m taking nothing away from anything anyone in the past has done, but we need new leadership to continue the dream of Dr. (Martin Luther) King and make sure everyone has a seat at the table.”

Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1. 

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