5th District candidates share few viewpoints

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In the race for Fifth Congressional District, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo is facing Dr. Ralph Abraham in the Dec. 6 runoff. The seat is currently held by Vance McAllister, who came in fourth in the primary. McAllister lost much of his support after the married McAllister was caught kissing a staffer on a video surveillance camera.

Democrat Mayo said he believes he can do for the Fifth Congressional District what he has done for Monroe during his 13 years as mayor.

Republican Abraham said he is not devising a different campaign strategy despite finishing second to Mayo in the Nov. 4 primary.

Mayo was first in the Nov. 4 primary with 67,611 votes, or 28.2 percent of the votes. Mayo finished second in Washington Parish with 3,756 votes. Abraham managed 23.1 percent of the votes on Nov. 4. He received 55,489 total votes districtwide, including 1,273 votes in Washington Parish. West Monroe’s Zach Dasher carried Washington Parish, with 4,462 votes, but finished third overall with 53,628 votes for 22.3 percent.

“I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many great supporters throughout the 24 parishes in the district,” Mayo said. “We’ve worked hard to earn their support by telling them about our record of success as mayor of Monroe.”

As mayor, Mayo said the city had a record budget surplus of $14.3 million.

“We’ve also created an environment where a large number of jobs are being created in Monroe, such as Century Link, the third largest telecommunications company in the United States,” Mayo said. “Also, I’m a Democrat, but I have the ability to work across party lines and with Republicans and Independents to bring in millions of dollars of federal funds, such as a new airport terminal in Monroe and other infrastructure projects.”

Mayo said there are other projects that display his leadership.

“We have built a state-of-the-art Public Safety Center and a downtown river market,” Mayo said. “I just don’t support projects in Monroe, but I support the Greater Ouachita Port in West Ouachita. They’ve been given $114 million. We gave the port $250,000 to help fund the Northeast Louisiana Economic Alliance. I’m a member of that, and I’m an advocate of regional economic development.”

Abraham said he thinks his same message will be enough to garner votes from the other seven candidates’ supporters who did not make the runoff. The race is Abraham’s first run for political office.

“I have the same message in the runoff as I had for the primary. That is focus on the debacle of Obamacare, the border problem, which is a national security problem, and jobs,” Abraham said. “It’s the same message we started with and the same message we’ll finish with.

“We had a good set of candidates to vote for last time,” Abraham continued. “All the candidates had some good values. There were a lot of good people to choose from. Mayo got his votes to come out on top. We’re hoping to get the votes from the other Republican candidates. Hopefully some of the voters who supported Democratic candidates will vote for us.”

Mayo said his overall experience is the difference between him and Abraham.

“I have the experience to do the same for Washington Parish and the Fifth District in government,” Mayo said. “That’s a huge difference between me and my opponent. I served five of my 18 years in government on the City Council.”

Mayo said he supports raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10 per hour.

“I also support the expansion of Medicaid, and he doesn’t,” Mayo said. “I will also be a full-time representative with no other interests. He said he will maintain his medical practices and his other business interests.”

Mayo said he thinks he will fare better in Washington Parish on Dec. 6.

“I was pleased with the support I received in Washington Parish,” Mayo said. “We won four of the five Florida Parishes. We have another opportunity to win Washington Parish in the runoff. I really do appreciate the really good people of Washington Parish who supported me.”

Mayo attacked Abraham for his lack of government experience, but Abraham said it is his business sense that makes him the best candidate.

“I’m fairly diversified in life experiences,” Abraham said. “I actively farm and have grown four businesses from the ground up. I’m a veteran, and I know how to meet payroll, stay within a budget and work with a large number of employees.

“The Fifth Congressional District is the largest in the nation for row crops,” Abraham said. “My farming background will come in very, very handy. I grew corn and soybeans on the farm this year.”

Should he defeat Mayo, Abraham said his medical practice will be in good hands.

“I have two other doctors and three nurse practitioners who will do well in my practice,” Abraham said. “Business in Washington is a priority.”

Abraham said the differences between himself and Mayo are like night and day.

“He is for Obamacare; I’m against it,” Abraham said. “He is more government; I’m not. He is for Medicaid expansion; I’m against it because we can’t afford it in Louisiana. The Department of Health and Human Services said it will cost $2 billion. Some 260,000 patients would be put off their private insurance. It’s a matter of money.”

Abraham said he doesn’t support raising minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.

“I’m for allowing the free market to take its course,” Abraham said. “I would like to reduce corporate taxes from 35 percent to 15 percent. Businesses have got to make money. Some of those cuts could go back to employees’ salaries.”

Abraham said he also supports approval of the Keystone Pipeline and federal lands opened to oil and gas exploration.

“We want the export ban on oil and liquefied natural gas lifted so we can ship it over to Europe,” Abraham said. “And we want to require approval of Congress on anything that has to do with Iraq and Iran. We want the border sealed. We are for legal immigration every day of the week. We need to know who is coming across those borders. With the Senate being Republican now, I think we’ll some of those issues pushed to the forefront.”