With the Nov. 6 election looming, we asked the candidates for U.S. Representative - Fourth Congressional District to tell us why they are running and what makes them the best candidate. Mark Halverson (no party), Mike Johnson (R) and Ryan Trundle (D) are on the ballot. Early voting is from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Oct. 23-30 (except Sunday, Oct. 28). For what’s on your ballot, where to vote and more election news, visit kplctv.com/politics/elections.
· Mike Johnson: I am a dedicated husband and father of four, as well as a constitutional law attorney who has devoted his life and career to fighting for the fundamental freedoms and traditional values that have always been a priority to the people of Louisiana. For nearly 20 years, I have successfully litigated high profile constitutional law cases in district and appellate courts nationwide. I am widely recognized as a leading defender of the right to life, religious liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and free market principles. I solidified my reputation as a principled, full-spectrum conservative when I served in the Louisiana Legislature from February 2015 to January 2017. I was elected to the state legislature twice without opposition, and was honored to be appointed vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and to the Select Committee on Leadership. As a legislator, I have received top awards from business and industry, limited government, and pro-life and pro-family groups. The eldest son of a Shreveport firefighter who was critically burned and disabled in the line of duty, I learned early on the values of hard work, honor and sacrifice. I have a practical understanding of the challenges that small business owners face because I, like my parents and grandparents, was one. I was also a conservative talk radio host and columnist, a media spokesman for America’s largest religious liberty organizations, a constitutional law seminar instructor, and a board member for national organizations and numerous community groups and ministries. I earned my Juris Doctorate from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University in 1998 and earned my undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Louisiana State University in 1995. I have been married to my wife Kelly, a Licensed Christian Counselor and former school teacher from Webster Parish, since 1999. We have four children, Hannah, Abigail, Jack and Will, and reside in Bossier Parish.
· Ryan Trundle: I am not a politician. I am a middle-class working man with two daughters completely invested in the struggle to make Louisiana a better place to live. After college I worked as a ranch hand in Wyoming, offshore in the Gulf and for the past decade in the service department of a Dodge dealership until I quit to enter this race. A lifelong activist and volunteer working for the homeless, environment and disadvantaged communities I have always stepped up when needed. If there was ever a time we need progressive moral voices in congress it is now.
· Mike Johnson: I chose to run for office because I was deeply concerned about the trajectory of our nation, and I felt I had a moral obligation to do what I could to change it. I was worried about the future we were leaving behind for our children and grandchildren – the insurmountable debt, the erosion of our core principles and, at times, the complete disregard for the rule of law.
· Ryan Trundle: I’m running because people like me, people who aren’t millionaires, don’t have representation in Congress. Because we need a congress that works for all of us, not just the the 1%. Republicans are doing everything they can to end Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIPs, the Environmental Protection Agency, consumer protections, the Affordable Care Act and basically anything that actually helps people. Children are being torn from their mothers and held in tent camps. Our allies are being turned into enemies while dictators become allies. Trade wars will cost our farmers and manufacturers billions of dollars they can’t afford to lose. Our most vulnerable and in need of help are being pushed aside to give trillion dollar tax cuts to the wealthy. We need people in congress care more about the people they represent than the corporations that fill their pockets. Which is why I refuse Super Pacs and corporate money and will work to end Citizens United keeping unethical money out of politics. I am running to give regular people like myself a voice in Washington.
· Mike Johnson: During my first term in Congress, I was able to navigate the various factions amongst our party and find consensus on important legislation and key issues. This allowed me to implement real, actionable solutions for the people of Louisiana’s Fourth District and gave me the opportunity to run for the Republican Study Committee chairmanship this November. If I earn that position, the voice of Louisiana’s Fourth District will have an even greater impact, and help shape legislative policy for the entire Republican conference in Washington. Since coming to Congress, I have held true to my word and never faltered on the core principles I, and many across Louisiana’s Fourth District, hold so dear. In just these first two years, I successfully advocated for federal funding returning to the state, including funding for the military installations in Louisiana’s Fourth District -- Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base. This is only the beginning, and we have so much more we can do to support the people of LA04 if given the chance.
· Ryan Trundle: A legislator is supposed to be representative of their district and know what the people need. Millionaire lawyers are certainly not the majority of our district and have no idea what the average person is going through. It does not take a rich lawyer or doctor to be a good legislator, in fact they overwhelming pass laws that only help other rich people. Republicans have had control of the House, Senate and the White House for the past two years and working families are no better off. In fact, average working class wages have decreased while the wealthy keep getting richer. It just takes someone to make the right choice. I will choose the people first every time.
· Mike Johnson: The people of our district want a fair shot at the American dream. They want better economic opportunity and mobility, safety and security, and less government intrusion in their lives. No matter where I go across Louisiana’s Fourth District, I hear from small business owners about the troubles they have faced in building their businesses. A lot of that has improved during this Congress, since we passed the largest tax reform package in more than 30 years. But in addition, we worked tirelessly to remove excessive government regulation that was hindering our businesses. We must continue to cut government red tape and allow the American people to operate and grow their businesses without interference from Washington bureaucrats. That is a top priority not only for the people of Louisiana’s Fourth District, but for the nation as a whole.
· Ryan Trundle: I have been all over our district talking to people and most everyone agrees on many important issues. The most important is the need to raise the wage. 78% of people in our district are living paycheck to paycheck, up from 60% two years ago. 30% are in poverty. Thousands are working two and three jobs just to survive. Raising the minimum wage to a living wage not only raises everyone paycheck it also greatly helps businesses and our towns.
· Mike Johnson: While we have been incredibly successful in removing excessive federal regulations, boosting our economy and getting a record number of Americans back to work, there is still a lot of work to do. We must secure our borders and protect national security. We have to put an end to the disaster that is Obamacare and implement a plan that puts patients and their doctors back in control of their healthcare – not Washington bureaucrats. And we must continue to fight for pro-life policies and stop the taxpayer funding of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.
· Ryan Trundle: Based from what people in our district have told me there are quite a few changes that need to be made as soon as possible. We must save and expand Social Security. Bankruptcy for seniors has surged this year as prices keep growing but their checks don’t. People also need an affordable health insurance option like Medicare for All. With skyrocketing insurance rates and ever rising deductibles, working families can’t afford it anymore. We must have a fair marketplace where the mom and pop place has the same chance of success as the multinational corporate store. We must have a level playing field where everyone has an equal chance at a job where equal work demands equal pay. When you do get that job you deserve to be paid a living wage. Helping build strong unions and democracy in the workplace will help ensure this. Education is another key to opportunity which is why we need to make public colleges and trade schools tuition free. Everyone deserves an equal chance to achieve the American dream. We must take care of those protecting us. There are over a million veterans in poverty and 40% of active duty military families qualify for food assistance. With a 770 billion dollar military budget, larger than the next ten countries combined, there is no reason not to pay our military men and women a living wage or take care of our veterans. We must protect people from unethical companies poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink and fish in and the ground that grows our food. Someone said I’m against oil and gas. I’m not against oil and gas I drive my car everyday, I worked offshore and at a car dealership. I’m against huge wealthy corporations getting billions of dollars in subsidies while 60% of oil and gas workers are unemployed. That money could just have easily been spent hiring displaced workers to build a clean renewable energy grid and fix our failing infrastructure.
*NOTE: Mark Halverson did not respond to KPLC’s questionnaire.