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Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds speaks about his two adoption bills that will become law on Aug. 1, 2018 during a rally at the State Capitol on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds announced  Thursday that he is running for secretary of state in the November election.

A Baptist pastor with ties to the Louisiana Family Forum, a powerful group that advocates conservative Christian values in government, Edmonds was elected in 2015 to represent southeast Baton Rouge neighborhoods in the Louisiana House.

Edmonds officially announced at a Republican Women of Baton Rouge luncheon, where he was the scheduled speaker. He plans to start a statewide tour that returns to Baton Rouge for a July 19 rally. He said he would officially qualify for the ballot on July 20.

The Secretary of State, who is third in the line of gubernatorial succession, organizes Louisiana’s elections, handles business incorporation documents, and archives state government’s papers.

Edmonds says he sees the secretary of state, who is elected in a statewide vote, not only as the guarantor of a sound and safe election process but as a statewide pulpit. Democracy needs practical applications for people to have confidence in the process, he said. A high-level leader needs to cast a vision of what policies the state should follow.

“They need to know who are and what you stand for,” Edmonds said. “I think that builds confidence” in state government.

Edmonds is one the House Republicans who voted against tax increases and he sponsored several anti-abortion measures.

He said that as secretary of state he would push the current effort to replace the state’s voting machines, as well as strengthen protections of voter data and ensure greater accessibility at the polls. He would not support initiatives like internet voting and allowing voter registration on election day.

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For 12 years before joining Louisiana Family Forum in Baton Rouge, Edmonds was senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Shreveport, which included a school, day care, and a senior center. He oversaw 200 employees and multi-million-dollar budgets that included support of ministries around the world.

Since being elected to the Louisiana House and leaving the Family Forum, Edmonds has worked as an adviser at Bethany Church, a large nondenominational congregation. The church’s main campus in Baker was flooded in 2016 and Edmonds coordinated shifting the church’s school and some other ministries to the unflooded campus in south Baton Rouge.

Though a couple of dozen politicos say they are considering a run, Edmonds becomes the fourth candidate to officially announce his candidacy for the office.

Republican Rep. Julie Stokes, a Kenner certified public accountant, has announced her candidacy. So has Renee Fontenot Free, the Democratic former head of the Attorney General’s Director of the Public Protection Division, and former Republican state senator, A.G. Crowe, of Pearl River.

The official sign-up for the election begins July 18 and ends July 20. The election will be held on Nov. 4 followed, if necessary, by a Dec. 8 runoff.

The post became open when Secretary of State Tom Schedler denied allegations that he sexually harassed an employee, then stepped down earlier this year.

Kyle Ardoin is serving as secretary of state until the election determines who will fill out the remaining year of Schedler’s term. The winner would have to run again in 2019 for a full four-year term.


Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.