Louisiana’s second Senate debate will take place in front of an empty auditorium Wednesday at Dillard College but organizers won’t say if that’s because of candidate David Duke.
Many students at the historically black institution contested the presence of the white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader and there will likely be protests outside the auditorium, The Advocate of Baton Rouge reported.
The decision to not allow an audience was made by Raycom Media, which is sponsoring the debate.
“We just elected to have a closed production,” said Vicki Zimmerman, Raycom’s regional news director.
Asked if Duke was the reason for the move, Zimmerman said, “I’m not going to elaborate any further than I already did.”
Along with Duke, Republicans John Kennedy, the state treasurer, and Reps. John Fleming and Charles Boustany Jr. will participate in the debate as well as Democratic candidates Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and lawyer Caroline Fayard.
Under Louisiana’s election system, the two candidates who receive the most votes will face each other in a runoff election in December.
A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls shows Kennedy with a 6-point lead over Campbell, and Boustany, Fayard and Fleming trailing them. Duke qualified for the debate by getting 5.1 percent in a poll commissioned by Raycom. The other 18 candidates on the ballot did not.
Boustany’s campaign had strong words for Duke ahead of the debate.
“David Duke is a total relic of the past,” said spokesman Jack Pandol. “He’s not representative of the Louisiana of today.”