State Rep. Ernest Wooton is the “gun man” in the Louisiana Senate race.

“Yes, I’m a gun man,” he told The Ballot Box. “I think the Second Amendment’s always an issue. We’re making criminals out of people for living by the Second Amendment of the Constitution.”

Wooton was a last-minute entrant into the Senate race, filing to run as an independent before the deadline on Friday. His campaign was initially interpreted to be another thorn in the side of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.). But the state lawmaker may in fact end up taking votes away from Democratic Senate candidate Charlie Melancon, whom he’s called a friend for 35 years.

“I was a Democrat most of my life,” Wooton told The Ballot Box on Tuesday.

Wooton served as sheriff of Plaquemines Parish, which is in Melancon’s House district. He switched to become a Republican in 2005 and then switched to be an independent to run for Senate. 

Wooton is known in political circles but does not have high name recognition outside his legislative district. He plans to campaign with a broad message.

“I’m going after voters,” he said. “I’m going after Democrats, I’m going after Republicans, I’m going after independents, libertarians, communists, I don’t care what they are.”

Curbing gun control has been a major focus for Wooton. He sponsored a bill in the Legislature last year to allow “properly credentialed, concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns on college campuses.” It didn’t pass the House.

Allowing employees to carry guns to work, he added, “is not a bad idea either.”

“I grew up hunting,” Wooton explained. “My father bought me my first gun when I was nine years old, but he taught me how to use it.”

Being the “gun man” in the race may help his campaign. “You got a lot of people with guns in the state of Louisiana,” he said.

Guns aren’t his only priority. “We’ve got to get God back in our country,” he said.