House Speaker Jim Tucker said Monday he will run for the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office in the Oct. 22 primary elections, calling it “the most interesting” job in state government.
Among the duties of the office are running elections, managing the state archives and some museums as well as the corporations division, where companies register to do business in the state.
“I want to make it an important position, especially as it relates to business development in the state and to protect the election system because it is so critical,” Tucker said.
Tucker, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election to the House, said he plans to spend $1 million leading up to the Oct. 22 primary election.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s campaign immediately sent out a statement, in which Schedler took a swipe at his fellow GOP opponent.
Schedler accused Tucker of running to get the pay raise he was unsuccessful in getting for legislators in 2008. In the face of growing public opposition, Gov. Bobby Jindal vetoed the bill more than doubling legislative base pay to $37,500 annually. Total compensation would have topped $50,000.
Schedler said he’s running because he wants the job — not for the $115,000-a-year pay.
One other Republican has said he’s interested in the job — state Rep. Walker Hines, of New Orleans. Democrat Caroline Fayard has also said she is looking at the race.
In a Press Club of Baton Rouge announcement appearance, Tucker called Schedler “a friend” and he said “friends make mistakes.”
“The Lord has been very good to me in my personal financial situation where I can serve the public without it affecting the quality of life of my family,” Tucker said.
Tucker said he had planned on giving any legislative pay raise to a charity.
He said there had been no legislative pay hike since the early 1980s and he thought it important that the pay was sufficient so that not just rich people can serve as lawmakers.
Tucker said lawmakers made a mistake when they pushed raises for themselves and corrected that by passing a constitutional amendment that would delay any future raise to the next legislative term.
In a later interview, Schedler said the secretary of state’s race is not going to be a “friendly deal.”
“I’m going to bring it to him. I don’t want him to think it’s a candy-based election. He was the pay raise author, and obviously I am going to tag him for it,” Schedler said.
Schedler stepped into the job after incumbent Jay Dardenne won a 2010 special election as lieutenant governor. He had been Dardenne’s first assistant.
Tucker told the Press Club that as the state’s elections chief he would take the same nonpartisan approach he did as House speaker. He said it is important to protect the integrity of elections.
Tucker said one of his main pushes will be to improve the state’s dismal election day voter turnout numbers.
He also said he sees the office as one that can be used to help business, especially small business, through its corporations division. A website could link firms with opportunities for state businesses, he said.
In addition, Tucker said, he would work on restoring state museums to full hours of operation.