BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany launched his campaign Monday for Louisiana's U.S. Senate seat, a race that appears likely to become jam-packed with GOP contenders.
Boustany, a cardiovascular surgeon in his sixth term in Congress representing southwest Louisiana, became the second announced candidate in the race, kicking off his effort with a speech at his boyhood home in Lafayette.
"We deserve a senator with a proven record of conservative leadership," Boustany said in a statement. "We deserve a senator who will support American small businesses against the overreach of Washington. We deserve a senator who will take on big challenges like fixing our broken health care system, reforming outdated welfare programs and rewriting our burdensome tax code. I am confident I will be that senator for Louisiana."
Boustany has been an influential member of Louisiana's congressional delegation, most recently named chairman of the Ways and Means Committee's tax policy subcommittee. He joins Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming in the 2016 race to fill the seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter.
The two candidates are markedly different. Boustany has been allied with GOP leadership, while Fleming has been an outspoken member of the House's tea party wing.
At least one other GOP contender, retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness — who ran unsuccessfully for the Senate last year — has filed federal paperwork indicating his plans to run. And several other high-profile Republicans in Louisiana are eyeing the race, including Treasurer John Kennedy and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who ran third in the governor's race this year.
Boustany has nearly $1.5 million in his campaign account for the race, according to his latest federal fundraising report. Fleming reported more than $2.3 million cash on hand for a campaign, while Maness had only $27 remaining in his account.
Vitter decided against seeking a third term after losing the Louisiana governor's race.
Democratic candidates have been slower to emerge for the race. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said he won't run for the Senate seat, but Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is considering a campaign.