Haynesville schoolteacher Tara Hollis officially became a gubernatorial candidate Wednesday after a quick dash to the ATM outside the Secretary of State’s Office for the required qualifying fee.
As Hollis talked to news reporters after qualifying, she was videotaped by two volunteers, who said they were from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s campaign. Hollis later introduced herself to the volunteers and asked how they are handling recent college tuition increases.
With one day left in qualifying for the Oct. 22 primary, five candidates now are opposing Jindal’s re-election bid.
The big, unanswered question is whether a well-financed opponent will enter the governor’s race. New Orleans area businessman John Georges said he is considering the idea after finishing a distant third to Jindal in 2007. He largely self-financed the millions of dollars he spent on that failed campaign.
Candidates have until 5 p.m. Thursday to sign up for a variety of offices, including governor, lieutenant governor and 144 legislative seats.
Qualifying sparked a flurry of activity Tuesday with all of Louisiana’s statewide officials, including Jindal, paying the necessary fees to run for re-election.
By Wednesday, the process of filing paperwork to run for state offices slowed to a trickle at the Secretary of State’s Office off Essen Lane with five candidates adding their names to the ballot.
Metairie lawyer Cary J. Deaton said he decided to run for governor after reading in the newspaper that no Democrats were opposing Jindal. He qualified hours before Hollis did.
Deaton previously ran for state attorney general, the U.S. Senate and Congress. He said he is concerned about higher education funding.
“If I’m elected, the tuition increases are over,” Deaton said.
Three candidates without a party affiliation also are running against the Republican governor, who is seeking a second four-year term.
Hollis arrived with a check drawn on her campaign account to add her name to the Oct. 22 ballot. Candidates are supposed to pay their qualifying fees in cash or with a certified check, cashier’s check or money order.
Hollis’ sister-in-law made a quick visit to the ATM in the office’s parking lot to withdraw the $1,125 qualifying fee.
After filing her paperwork, Hollis said she hopes to set the precedent that running for office does not require “an ungodly amount of money.”
Jindal has nearly $9 million to spend on his re-election bid in the weeks leading up to the election, according to his latest disclosure. On her most recent campaign finance report, Hollis reported having less than $1,000 on hand.
“I don’t believe I need Jindal’s type of money,” Hollis said, adding that she is heavily relying on free media and the Internet to campaign.
The only other state offices to draw candidates Wednesday were seats on the state board that develops public education policy.
Jindal is getting involved in the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education races. He convinced one long-time member, Glenny Lee Buquet, to run for re-election to the board that will select the state’s next education superintendent. Jindal wants to have a say in the selection.
Republican Holly Boffy, Louisiana’s 2010 teacher of the year, said she has Jindal’s support as she vies for the Lake Charles area seat currently held by Republican Dale Bayard, who is seeking re-election.
Jindal campaign aide Timmy Teepell confirmed that Boffy has the governor’s backing.
Democrat Carolyn Hill, of Baton Rouge, signed up to run for the BESE seat held by Linda Johnson, who is not seeking reelection.
Democrat Louella Givens said she hopes to hold onto her New Orleans area seat.
Givens accused the governor of trying to elect a board that will speak with one voice on issues such as the next superintendent. She said Jindal’s choice for superintendent, John White of the Recovery School District, does not appear to have a wealth of experience.
“It’s not Louella against the governor or Louella against the world,” she said. “It’s Louella representing the Second District.”