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.
So far, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, State Treasurer John Kennedy and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon are unchallenged in their re-election bids.
Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal is facing at least six opponents, including Haynesville schoolteacher Tara Hollis. Hollis is a Democrat.
New Orleans area businessman John Georges said he would make a decision Thursday afternoon on whether to jump into the governor’s race. Georges, a registered Democrat, finished a distant third to Jindal in 2007.
Schoolteacher Ivo “Trey” Roberts of Gretna signed up to run as a Democrat against Jindal Thursday.
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.
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.