Congressman’s self-promotion an issue in Louisiana race

Nov 8, 2022, 3:01 AM | Updated: 7:10 am
File - U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., shown in this June 8, 2022 file photograph taken during a com...

File - U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., shown in this June 8, 2022 file photograph taken during a committee hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington. Higgins faces several opponents including fellow Republican Holden Hoggatt, in his reelection race for Louisiana's Third Congressional District seat. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A bent for bombastic self-promotion that helped Rep. Clay Higgins win his congressional seat in 2016 — when the Mountie-hatted ex-sheriff’s deputy’s anti-crime videos earned him the “Cajun John Wayne” nickname — became a point of criticism as he sought a fourth term representing Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional district.

Six years after Higgins’ first election victory, another political newcomer, fellow Republican Holden Hoggatt, was among seven people challenging him in Tuesday’s election in the Acadiana region. Hoggatt had endorsements from Higgins’ popular Republican predecessor and others. But Higgins had key endorsements, too, from congressional colleagues.

Because of Louisiana’s unique primary system, candidates face all challengers from all parties Tuesday. If no one wins an outright majority, the top two candidates will head to a December runoff.

Four other incumbent Republicans hail, like Higgins, from strongly Republican districts in GOP-dominated Louisiana. Mike Johnson from northwest Louisiana, had no opposition Tuesday. The others, Julia Letlow from northeast Louisiana; Garrett Graves, from the Baton Rouge area; and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise from suburban New Orleans, drew opponents who were not well known and lagged in fundraising. The same was true for the only Democrat and sole Black member in the state’s congressional delegation, Troy Carter, whose district stretches from New Orleans up the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge.

Higgins, a former car salesman whose second career was in law enforcement, gained fame for tough-talking anti-crime videos. He won an open seat in 2016 and won reelection twice while voicing support for former President Donald Trump.

Hoggatt, a lawyer and prosecutor, touted his record as a prosecutor and his stable family life while attacking Higgins, alluding to the incumbent’s sometimes controversial videos and social media posts and a former wife’s allegation that he once pointed a gun at her. Higgins vehemently denied that in a 2016 interview with The Associated Press.

Higgins critics said he unwisely missed opportunities to meet with President Joe Biden and administration officials to secure federal aid for the hurricane-battered state. Higgins said he’s worked with the delegation to deliver more than $3 billion in federal money to help in the recovery from hurricanes Laura and Delta. His supporters included House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy and Scalise.

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Congressman’s self-promotion an issue in Louisiana race