William Tecumseh Sherman comes to mind as we head into this fall’s elections.

His answer to questions about political ambition was refreshingly blunt: "I will not accept, if nominated, and will not serve, if elected."

Most politicians prefer a more wishy-washy response, to promote the idea that they’re being dragged into public service by a demanding citizenry.


A plausible argument can be made that helping the unknown be known is at the center of the Oct. 14 elections. Early voting is this week. Both the Treasurer’s Office and the Public Service Commission have long been used as booster rockets to propel political careers higher.

Do the candidates for state treasurer, which is on every ballot statewide, or commissioner on the PSC, which is on ballots for much of Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Houma and Morgan City, harbor further political ambitions?

“I get asked that question a fair amount and understandably I suppose,” texted Dr. Craig Greene, a Baton Rouge surgeon who is making his first bid for office in the PSC race.

The current favorite among establishment Republicans, at least the corporate types who fund the party, Greene says his goal is to “do a really good job as a commissioner … then there may be other service and leadership options down the road.”

Interim Commissioner Damon Baldone says he wants nothing more than to serve out the remainder of his career on the PSC, but won’t lock the door to the future. The lawyer and businessman left the Louisiana House as the Democratic representative for Houma after being term-limited in 2012.

He was tapped by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in June to fill the post until this election. Baldone switched to the Republican Party when qualifying to run for a seat that hasn’t elected a Democrat since the late 1980s. The third candidate, also a Republican, Lenar Whitney, replaced Baldone for one term in the Louisiana House and ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for a congressional seat.


Consumer advocate Logan Atkinson Burke, who heads the New Orleans-based Alliance for Affordable Energy, says questions about future political plans are reasonable given the history of the five-member regulatory board. Each member of the PSC represents more people than a congressman. Key votes have been postponed to accommodate commissioners’ political activities. At the very least, she said, job seeking diverts attention from commissioners’ detail-oriented work, in which decisions over complex financial and engineering issues directly determine how much people pay on their monthly electricity bills.

A relatively unknown Huey Long launched his bids for higher office from the PSC as did Govs. Jimmie Davis, John McKeithen, and Kathleen Blanco. Gubernatorial candidates Jay Blossman and John Schwegmann also used the PSC as a staging ground. Current PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell ran for governor, then the U.S. Senate from his PSC seat.

And this special election is being held to fill out the remaining two years of Scott Angelle’s tenure. The former lieutenant governor, who joined the PSC in 2013, spent much of his time trying to find another job, first running for governor, then for Congress, and finally being appointed to oversee offshore drilling for the Trump administration earlier this year.

Sixteen men and one woman have held the governorship since Huey Long, but there have been only five treasurers during that time.

Mary Landrieu changed the post from a long-time sinecure for accountants into a stepping stone when in 1995 she went from being Moon’s daughter to candidate for governor, then U.S. Senator.

The three major Republican candidates all say they see the state treasurer’s job as the penultimate of their political careers. (There are six candidates vying for the seat, but the other three have raised little money and done little campaigning.)


Former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, of Baton Rouge, says “No,” she will not seek another office.

State Sen. Neil Riser, of Columbia and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Congress in 2013, has no plans to run for future office but won’t rule it out.

Former state Rep. John Schroder, a Covington real estate developer, says more people will hear his views on state government financial practices as treasurer than did as a member of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee. He wants to be like John N. Kennedy, his former constituent.

Kennedy, who was treasurer for 16 years, used the office as a bully pulpit to loudly comment on lawmakers’ spending and taxing practices — decisions over which he had no official role. It helped Kennedy get elected to the U.S. Senate on his third try, thereby necessitating the need for this special election.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.