Former U.S. Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao jumped into the state attorney general’s race Thursday after deciding against pushing to become the state’s next education superintendent.
“I believe the state needs an aggressive and dedicated attorney general,” he said.
Cao will face fellow Republican state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell on the Oct. 22 ballot.
His entrance into the fall elections leaves just two uncontested races for statewide elected offices. State Treasurer John Kennedy and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon have yet to pick up opponents with a few hours left in qualifying.
Gov. Bobby Jindal now has seven opponents.
Scott Lewis, vice chairman of the state’s Libertarian Party, added his name to the governor’s race after failed attempts in 2003 and 2007 to become secretary of state.
Lewis said the governor’s office is the best place to launch a platform.
Plaquemines Parish schoolteacher Ivo “Trey” Roberts signed up to run as a Democrat against Jindal.
Roberts, a member of the Greater New Orleans Tea Party, said Jindal has not weaned the state off federal dollars and bended beyond flexibility on pro-life issues.
“This governor has failed to recognize the tea party at all. He’s not spoken at any of our events. He’s failed to acknowledge us. We feel it is a snub,” he said.
State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain picked up two challengers to his re-election bid Thursday.
Reform Party candidate Belinda “B” Alexandrenko of Pineville and Democrat Jamie LaBranche of LaPlace put their names on the Oct. 22 ballot to run against Strain for the job of overseeing agriculture and forestry across the state.
Alexandrenko, who used to work for the LSU AgCenter, ran for governor in 1995, 1999 and 2007. She captured less than one percent of the vote in each election.
LaBranche, a licensed arborist and horticulturist, said he wants to increase the focus in high schools on agricultural professions.
“We’re trying to bring some new ideas,” he said. “We’re trying to get agriculture back in the schools.”
Qualifying ends at 5 p.m. Thursday for a variety of offices, including governor, lieutenant governor and 144 legislative seats.
Sign-up for state offices on the October ballot slowed after the first day of qualifying.
Four candidates now are vying to succeed Linda Johnson on BESE, which develops public education policy. Johnson is not seeking re-election.
Former high school teacher Russell Armstrong signed up for the District 8 race Thursday.
Armstrong, who works for the state Department of Education, said he interacts with educators daily.
“I’m in the race to support educators and to support children,” he said.