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Candidates talk weed, terrorism at 6th congressional debate

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BATON ROUGE - Seven of the candidates vying for the 6th congressional seat took time this afternoon to answer questions in front of voters.

The forum, hosted by Leaders with Vision and broadcast on WBTR, focused on questions from a panel of journalist and the candidates themselves.

Three of the lesser known candidates, Libertarian Rufus Craig and Republicans Craig McCulloch and Trey Thomas, got the chance to speak next to the heavy hitters in the campaign including current State Senator Dan Claitor, former Chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Garret Graves, tech business owner Paul Dietzel, and former governor Edwin Edwards.

Nearly every candidate, except Edwards, says they would support equal pay for women, but think it should be left to the private sector to enforce, while Edwards said the issue should be championed by government.

All of the candidates, save Claitor, say they support some form of medicinal marijuana in Louisiana. Graves says he would support legalizing medicinal marijuana if it took the form of extracted THC, while Claitor says he doesn't support the current framework in the state for medical weed.

Each man said they would do "whatever it takes", including putting boots on the ground, to stop terrorist threats like ISIS, but Rufus Craig says the issue should be left for other countries to solve and that the US should leave the Middle East.

Several candidates expressed their zeal to repeal and replace Obamacare, putting care into the hands of the private sector, though some realize it would be difficult to repeal the law while President Obama is in office.

The candidates promised to fight for increased flood protection in the state and lower flood insurance premiums, but only Garret Graves provided tangible ideas to move critical infrastructure forward, like the Comite Diversion Project. Claitor offered ideas to build a coalition in congress in hopes of reducing insurance rates, while Craig says people should take responsibility for where they live.

The candidates boasted several harmonious ideas while some expressed discord, one reason why some people think this race, with an election just days away, is still far from over.

"I think the voters should look at this as a two step election with this many candidates, you're bound to have a runoff, so they need to put their votes where they think it'll do the most good to get their person into a runoff," said Carl Redman, a former newspaper editor and panelist on the forum.

Early voting is open until next Tuesday and the election will be held on Nov. 4. If no candidate gets a majority vote the race will go to a runoff on Dec. 6.

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