Two Iberia Parish candidates to vie for District 49 House seat in Feb. 21 special election _lowres

Blake Miguez, left, and John Bering

Two candidates this week signed up for a special February election to fill the unexpired term of former state Rep. Simone Champagne, a Republican from Jeanerette who resigned in December with a year left to her four-year term.

Seeking to replace her are Iberia Parish residents Blake Miguez and John Bering, both Republicans. They qualified for the Feb. 21 election to represent House District 49, which covers parts of Iberia and Vermilion parishes. Qualifying ran Wednesday through Friday.

Whoever wins next month will have to prepare quickly: The Louisiana Legislature convenes April 13.

Bering, 55, an oil and gas helicopter pilot, ran for the District 49 seat in 2011, finishing third among three in a race won by Champagne in the primary election. Bering garnered 9 percent of the vote.

He said Friday he believes Miguez is the favorite of the state Republican Party.

“They’ve already picked him,” Bering said. “Months ago, I heard them talking about him.”

Miguez, 33, of New Iberia, president of SeaTran Marine, said Friday he was setting up and campaigning for the 2015 run at the District 49 seat after Champagne announced in 2011 she wouldn’t seek another term.

Last year, he started campaigning for the October 2015 election, then he kicked the campaign into high gear after Champagne’s announcement in December. Champagne officially resigned Jan. 1, one year earlier than planned, to take a job as chief administrative officer in new Youngsville Mayor Ken Ritter’s administration.

Miguez has a financial advantage, with over $54,000 in contributions sitting in his election fund, according to his state campaign finance records.

Bering, meanwhile, has $39.65 in his campaign war chest, according to state records.

“Obviously, a lot of money will be spent” on the election, Bering said. “I won’t be spending it.”

Bering, a military veteran who lives in Jeanerette, said he would work to bring back to south Louisiana taxes sent to federal government. He said Iberia and Vermilion along with other coastal parishes need money to build levees for flood protection.

“It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to have your house raised when your car is underwater,” he said.

Miguez seems to have the momentum: On Friday, the Louisiana branch of Associated Builders and Contractors announced it had endorsed Miguez, according to Miguez’s political consultant, Jason Hebert.

“We’re working real hard. We haven’t taken our eye off the ball,” said Miguez, who was preparing for a campaign meet-and-greet Friday night in Erath, located in Vermilion Parish.

Bering said he was taking his low-budget campaign on a door-to-door tour.

“Well you know, they say big signs, big money. Little signs, little money,” Bering said. “In my case no signs, no money.”