BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana voters will get a chance this November to decide who will represent them in the sixth congressional district. LA06 wraps around the capital region and the seat is currently held by Congressman Garret Graves, who has occupied the role since 2015. He is being opposed by two other candidates.
Congressman Graves said the key topics for his reelection campaign are continuing his work to improve infrastructure, border control, promoting energy production in the U.S., and tackling the rise in crime. He said Louisiana is like many states that have seen a major spike in violent crime in recent years.
“The state crime lab has a one year backlog in processing DNA. The fact that some of these judges are doing these like slaps on the wrist to these repetitive offenders,” Rep. Graves said
Graves has been a major advocate for improvements to infrastructure, despite voting against the bipartisan infrastructure bill in 2021.
The Congressman said he wants the federal government to step in when it comes to high insurance rates to better fortify infrastructure and protect at-risk communities. He was one of many lawmakers who asked FEMA to delay or reform the Risk Rating 2.0 for flood insurance.
“I do think that there can be a federal government role in sort of having an all hazards type policy. But I think looking at things like earthquakes and tornadoes and snowstorms, tsunamis and helping to bring all of those things together. Why is it just flood insurance that’s out there on its own? And instead, maybe we should have some type of federal safety net for an all hazards type policy.”
A national conversation has begun about the validity of rebuilding in disaster prone areas, such as along the coast of Louisiana. Graves agrees that while there are some places that can’t be protected, there is more the federal government can do.
“I don’t think that people should have to be kicked out of communities or not be able to live there because the federal government hasn’t done its job in building the appropriate flood protection projects that in some cases have been authorized for construction for decades,” Rep. Graves said.
Running against the incumbent is Republican Brian Belzer from Ascension Parish. He runs a mechanic business that he built himself from the ground up.
“I’m the common joe. You know, I don’t call myself a politician. I call myself a business owner that’s fed up,” Belzer said.
He wants to make a push to get the administration to ramp up oil and gas production to help with the inflation rates and cost of gas. He said the move to green energy can’t be done all at once.
“I’m all for green energy 100%. But if we can get the petrochemical industry back at it again, get the price of fuel down, then the price of everything, you know, people don’t realize every single thing you buy is touched by the petrochemical industry,” Belzer said.
He wants to see more attention brought to the mental health arena. Belzer says some of his friends who were veterans took their own lives as a result of delayed care. These individuals were forced to wait for long periods of time before receiving care from a VA hospital. He also wants to grant children in juvenile detention increased access to career training in technical fields. Belzer feels this will better equip them for the future once they’ve completed their sentences.
Belzer stresses the importance of term limits on Congress to push members to pass more meaningful legislation. He vows that, if elected, he will spend eight years in Congress and then resign to allow new politicians a chance to make changes.
Voters will also get a third party option for the seat with Rufus Craig, a Baton Rouge attorney running as a Libertarian. Craig has run against Graves before and his top priority is balancing the country’s budget.
“I want to stress to people that there is a $31 trillion gorilla in the room that neither the Republicans or Democrats talk about, and that is the national debt. That is going to destroy America,” Craig said.
He claims that, “spending your grandchildren’s money” leads to a lot of the issues facing the nation today.
Craig supports abortion rights and leans into the idea that government shouldn’t be mandating what people do, but should focus on protecting rights. Another hot topic is immigration reform. Craig says the process to become a citizen needs to be clarified and streamlined.
With the recent focus on infrastructure in Congress, Craig says it needs to be improved in a way that doesn’t add to the national debt.
“Yeah, infrastructure’s a good thing, but we have to quit spending so much money and get our priorities straight. And infrastructure should be a priority,” Craig said.
In order to force a runoff, no candidate can win over 50% of the vote in the primary.
If one gets over 50% they win the race.
Election day is Nov. 8.