Qualifying for fall elections, including big statewide races, began Tuesday in Louisiana.

Follow below for updates throughout the day as candidates file their paperwork to officially enter races.

Click here to see the full list of qualifiers via the Secretary of State's Office.

12:16 p.m.

Shortly after Edwards filed, the governor’s race picked up a third Republican: Patrick “Live Wire” Landry, a New Orleans artist. “Liberalism is a really bad things,” Landry said. “Most liberals are atheists.”

He showed drawings that illustrate his political views, including red graphs indicating Edwards economy and something he called “Liberal Loons.”

12:00 p.m.

Incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards officially joined this fall’s election saying his Republican opponents are offering retreads of policies that have failed in the past.

Edwards pointed out that the state no longer operates at a deficit and that more residents than ever have healthcare coverage through his expansion of Medicaid.

He talked a lot about momentum and said should he win this fall Louisiana would continue to approve. He hoped, though wouldn’t promise, to increase the state appropriation to public colleges and universities. For K-12 education, whose teachers and staff received a pay raise recently, Edwards said he would look at strengthening credentials for schools that offer vouchers. He said school performance scores are the worst at schools that offer tuition assistance through vouchers.

Edwards showed up with his wife and one of his daughters, Sarah Ellen Edwards.

Edwards was the third gubernatorial candidate to qualify for the Oct. 12 elections. He is opposed by two Republicans – U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, of Alto, and Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman making his first bid for public office. If no one candidate wins more than half the vote, then the election will be decided in a November runoff.

Usually the major candidates bring along a cheering squad but Edwards brought along the most and the loudest, who chanted “four more years” and drowned out his comments with applause.

Another Democrat entered the race for governor -- Oscar "Omar" Dantzler, of Hammond.

Dantzler is a veteran school bus driver for the Tangipahoa Parish School District who has been a police officer, private investigator and owner of a bail bond company.

10:42 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, said he would not roll back Medicaid Expansion, that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered in 2016. But he would work on expanding jobs and improving the economy so that the working poor that relies on the federal-state health insurance could go into the private market for coverage.

Abraham is the second of the major candidates to fill out the paperwork and get his name on the October ballot.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is on his way to qualifying.

Abraham said the state’s taxes are too high and that is what is slowing economic growth in Louisiana. He would reduce taxes, but could say which one would be first and how the state would pay for the loss of revenues.

10:15 a.m. 

Deflecting criticism, Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain said medical marijuana, which was available for purchase on Tuesday, got to the shelves relatively quickly -- four years from passage of the law.

The state Democratic Party, in a press release, said Tuesday that "Strain has proven his incompetence as Agriculture Secretary after spending four years trying to implement medical marijuana farming in Louisiana."

Strain, whose department regulates the the product, said the process  was fast-paced compared to the 8-10 years typically required for new drugs to clear the federal review process.

He told reporters 4,760 doses were available Tuesday and another 4,300 doses are set to be cleared on Friday, with a third round expected a few weeks later.

Strain, who filed for re-election, said his department budget has been trimmed by 30 percent during his tenure and the number of jobs reduced from 1,006 to 451.

Marguerite Green, a New Orleans farmer, filed for agriculture commissioner.

Green told reporters leadership is needed to combat climate change.

She said green jobs could be developed through carbon farming.

Democrat Peter Williams, of Lettsworth, also filed for Strain's post.

9:53 a.m.

Candidates wanting to get their names on the ballot for the Oct. 12 election are signing up, filling out the paperwork and paying the fees Tuesday morning through Thursday afternoon.

One major candidate for governor, Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge contractor who is self-funding his campaign, signed the documents as a Republican and paid the $900 fee first. He is challenging the reelection of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is planning to arrive at the Secretary of State's office later Tuesday. A third major candidate is Republican northeast Louisiana U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, of Alto.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who is hosting the event, was the first to qualify. He won a special election in December and is seeking a full four-year term.

9:30 a.m.

Attorney General Jeff Landry filed for re-election Tuesday and said he is anxious for the state to resume executions.

Landry, who has clashed with Gov. John Bel Edwards on a variety of issues in the past 3 1/2 years, said his relationship with the governor is about as good as it has been all along.

He said he was heartened that the state Department of Corrections sought the input of his office on a lawsuit over executions.

"I guess that is a step in the right direction," Landry told reporters. "We want to get executions moving again."

9:05 a.m.

Baton Rouge millionaire contractor Eddie Rispone became the first candidate to qualify for governor. 

GOP candidate Eddie Rispone says Louisiana has 70,000 illegal ‘aliens” which would be sixth largest city in Louisiana and therefore a major problem. Though not identified as such by the federal government, Rispone said New Orleans is a sanctuary city because protests against immigration officials were allowed.

8:50 a.m.

Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser, who filed for re-election, said crime and cleaniness in the French Quarter is one of his concerns.

"The French Quarter ought to be shiny streets, it ought to be family friendly," Nungesser told reporters.

"It is something we want to address," he said. "I want to work with the mayor."

Nungesser also said public-private partnerships around state parks have merit.

"It is something we looked at in other states," he said. "They are doing it."

But Nungesser said the plans will have to win the support of local residents to move forward.

"If it is not something accepted by the community we are not going to do it," he said.

Nungesser said while two state parks are profitable financial issues are always a concern.

"Tourists don't vote," he quipped.

The second to sign up was Tim Temple.

An insurance agent with much experience in the insurance industry is challenging longtime Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon.

Temple says Donelon is a career politician and that someone from the industry without political background can communicate with the companies and attract more companies to do business in the state.

Temple blamed Donelon for the failure of the Legislature to approve Rep. Kirk Talbot’s bill that was sold as a way to lower auto insurance rates by limiting court access for people injured in car wrecks. Temple said he would have found statistics that would have shown how the bill would have lowered rates, which Talbot was unable to do.

Temple also said he would not favor increased regulation of the insurance industry, which states with lower rates have done.

Donelon showed up after lunch to fill out his paperwork for the race.

He said insurance companies couldn't calculate in advance how much money lowering litigation costs would save, but the Talbot legislation did have a mechanism require companies to submit their financials every year for three years to see the savings.

8:15 a.m. 

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin was the first to file after making a last-minute decision last year to seek the unexpired term of former Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

Ardoin, after repeatedly saying he would not run, joined the race just before the close of filing and won.

Now he seeking a four-year term.

Ardoin told reporters that he has been elected as treasurer of the National Association of Secretaries of State.

Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat from Clinton, lost to Aroin last year and filed for a re-match on Tuesday.

Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said in a statement Ardoin has failed to address election cybersecurity.

"He may be using the slogan 'Keep Kyle' but we think it's best that we keep Kyle away from the office of Secretary of State," Handwerk said.

Ardoin told reporters he is confident in the state's voting machines and voters should be too.

In other races, Democrat Derrick Edwards, of Harvey, filed for State Treasurer, an office held by Republican John Schroder.


In races for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, all five incumbents who plan to seek re-election filed on the first day.

They are Sandy Holloway of Thibodaux, Tony Davis of Natchitoches, Jim Garvey of Metairie, Holly Boffy of Youngsville and Kira Orange Jones of New Orleans.

Holloway, Davis, Garvey and Boffy are Republicans and Jones is a Democrat.

Three current members are not running again: BESE President Gary Jones, who lives near Alexandria; Kathy Edmonston, Gonzales and Jada Lewis, Baton Rouge.

Boffy got an opponent when former Vermilion Parish teacher Timala "Timmy" Melancon filed for the office.

Melancon is an independent who lives in Gueydan.

Republican Stephen Chapman, an Alexandria dentist and member of the Rapides Parish school board, filed for the seat being vacated by Jones.

Republican Gregory Spiers, of Springfield, filed for the BESE slot that Edmonston is leaving.

Chakesha Webb Scott, a Zachary Democrat, is seeking the post being vacated by Lewis.

BESE has 11 members, with eight elected and three named by the governor.

The panel sets policies for about 720,000 public school students statewide.

Check back with The Advocate for more details.

Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.