After months of lackluster campaigning, the three major candidates for governor officially signed up to put their names on the ballot for an election a little less than 10 weeks away.
Their campaign launches recycled bits from previous campaign appearances: Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards argued he has stabilized a sinking financial ship by changing the policies of the previous Republican governor.
Republican challengers Congressman Ralph Abraham, of Alto, and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone argue that Louisiana’s economy isn’t creating enough new jobs and attracting enough new businesses largely because taxes are too high.
National parties are pouring money into the gubernatorial race. Only three governors are running nationwide. Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. Republicans see Louisiana as their best chance to pick-up a governor’s seat.
The race for Louisiana governor has generated little heat so far, but that seems likely to change beginning this week, when candidates officia…
In addition to the governor’s post, six other agency heads are seeking election statewide and all 144 seats in the Louisiana Legislature are up on Oct. 12. Candidates will run against each other regardless of party. In races one candidate doesn’t receive more than half the vote, the top two vote-getters will meet in a November runoff.
Edwards arrived with his wife and a daughter to supporters chanting “four more years.” Abraham supporters jockeyed to get their signs – mostly blow ups of newspaper articles about various lists that rank Louisiana low – into media shots.
Edwards painted the election as referendum on his four-year tenure, pointing out the state no longer operates at a deficit annually and that more residents than ever have healthcare coverage.
"We are moving in a much better direction," Edwards said.
He talked a lot about momentum and said should he win this fall, Louisiana would continue to improve. He hoped, though wouldn’t promise, to increase the state appropriation to public colleges and universities.
Abraham said he would not roll back Medicaid expansion, that Edwards ordered in 2016. But he would work on finding more jobs and improving the economy so that the working poor who rely on the federal-state health insurance could go into the private market for coverage.
The state’s taxes are too high and that is slowing economic growth in Louisiana, he said. He said he would reduce taxes but could not say which ones, but added that making up for the lost revenues would work itself out.
By the time qualifying in the Louisiana governor’s race ends on Thursday, the Republican Governors Association, a national group based in Wash…
“It’s economics 101. It’s not rocket science,” Abraham said.
Rispone, who is self-funding his campaign, also argued that Louisiana’s tax burdens are responsible for what he says is an economy not keeping up with the national economy.
It’s obvious to him that the state is overtaxed, Rispone said, adding that an increase in the state sales tax followed by the announcement the state would run a $300 million surplus proved his point.
Rispone said Louisiana has 70,000 illegal "aliens,” which would be sixth largest city in Louisiana and therefore a major problem. “I am a supporter of our president,” Rispone said.
Two other candidates filed to run for governor.
Patrick “Live Wire” Landry, a New Orleans artist, filed to run as a Republican. Oscar "Omar" Dantzler, of Hammond, entered the governor’s race as a Democrat. He a school bus driver for the Tangipahoa Parish School District who has been a police officer,
Five of the six GOP statewide elected officials signed up for their re-election bids Tuesday morning
Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser, who filed for re-election, said crime and cleanliness in the French Quarter is one of his concerns.
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. Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat from Clinton, lost to Ardoin last year and filed for a re-match on Tuesday.
Attorney General Jeff Landry signed up. "We want to get executions moving again,” he told reporters.
State Treasurer John Schroder, a Republican, picked up an opponent, Democrat Derrick Edwards, of Harvey. Schroder is scheduled to qualify on Wednesday.
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, who is seeking a fourth term, has picked up a well-funded challenger, Tim Temple, who works in the insurance industry.
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. Donelon says Louisiana has more insurance companies operating in Louisiana than ever before.
Agricultural Commissioner Mike Strain, who filed for re-election, said his department budget has been trimmed by 30 percent during his tenure. Marguerite Green, a New Orleans farmer, challenged Strain saying leadership is needed to combat climate change. Democrat Peter Williams, of Lettsworth, also filed for Strain's post.
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.
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.
All 105 seats in the Louisiana House and 39 seats in the state Senate are up election and at least 47 are open because of term limits and retirement.
Emerge Louisiana, which trained women to run as Democratic candidates for the Louisiana Legislature, announced a dozen of their trained candidates signed up on the first day of qualifying.
Emerge expects 25 of their trained candidates to qualify before Thursday. That number, alone, is more women legislative candidates than ever before. However, another 20 women not affiliated with the group also are expected sign up before qualifying ends Thursday.