|State Rep. Tony Perkins (Republican)|
State Rep. Tony Perkins has staked out a position as the leading social and religious conservative in the four-way race for the U.S. Senate seat from Louisiana.
Perkins, a seven-year veteran of the state legislature, announced he would take on incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in early June. During his announcement, he blasted the freshman senator as a tool of the liberal Washington, D.C. establishment.
"Mary Landrieu has voted to please Tom Daschle and her liberal Washington friends, not the people of Louisiana," Perkins said. "Sure, she's thrown a couple of election year votes our way... in some strange attempt to apologize for her past mistakes. But after Election Day, she'll do what every other liberal Democrat must do to 'make it' in Washington-the 'Daschle Dance': Say you're a moderate and then vote with the liberals."
Perkins has made national news with some of his legislative achievements. Within two years of being elected to the state House of Representatives, Perkins introduced and helped pass the nation's first covenant marriage law in the nation. The law, which makes it harder to enter or end a marriage, sparked national interest and debate. Under the provisions of the law, a covenant marriage can't be dissolved unless the couple is separated for two years or can show proof of adultery, abandonment, physical abuse, or if one spouse is sentenced for a felony conviction.
In addition to his work promoting marriage, Perkins is staunchly anti-abortion and has worked on economic development and law and order issues while in Baton Rouge.
His legislative credentials have attracted the support of national conservative groups. This support has bolstered his efforts, especially after Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster endorsed one of his Republican opponents and the National Republican Senatorial Committee backed the other.
"Religious-oriented, pro-family groups are outraged that the national Republican Party hierarchy held an official fund-raising event for an opponent of the conservative movement's Senate candidate in Louisiana," Bob Novak wrote in early August in his syndicated column. "The Eagle Forum and the Family Research Council admire Republican State Rep. Tony Perkins, a pro-life conservative in the non-party election against heavily favored Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. Dr. James Dobson, the conservative commentator who rarely endorses any candidate, is ready to endorse Perkins."
Perkins, a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia, entered the Marine Corps after graduation. Following his tour of duty, he entered the law enforcement arena, working for the Baton Rouge City Police. During this time, he also worked with the U.S. State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, teaching hundreds of police officers from around the globe.
After leaving the law enforcement field, Perkins worked at a local Baton Rouge television station as a reporter and later a news director. He stayed there until his run for the 64th State House District in the eastern suburbs of Baton Rouge. In that election, he cruised to victory, campaigning on a traditional conservative platform of strong families and limited government. Four years later, he cruised to re-election unopposed.
--By Lee Banville, Online NewsHour