The four announced candidates for the state treasurer’s race officially submitted the papers and paid the fees Wednesday to get their name on the Oct. 14 ballot.
Three well-funded Republicans — state Sen. Neil Riser, of Columbia; former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, of Baton Rouge; and former state Rep. John Schroder, of Covington — arrived early enough for donuts at the Secretary of State’s Office.
Two others, who have raised no money, came about the time jambalaya arrived for lunch — New Orleans lawyer Derrick Edwards, who signed on as the only Democratic candidate; and Joseph D. Little, of Ponchatoula, who qualified as a Libertarian Party candidate.
They seek to replace longtime state Treasurer John Kennedy, who stepped down earlier this year after being elected to the U.S. Senate. Candidate sign up continues Thursday and ends at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
Three Republicans joined another race, this one to replace Scott Angelle on the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Angelle left in the middle of his term to take a job with President Donald Trump's administration.
New Orleans will be electing a mayor, and that is expected to attract a lot of voters; but treasurer, the only statewide race on the ballot, is expected to draw few to the polls.
One reason is that voters just don’t know who the candidates are.
An automated phone survey Baton Rouge pollster John Couvillon conducted Tuesday showed that 57 to 59 percent of the 1,050 voters questioned had “never heard” of the candidates when the name of each was called out. Paid for by Accountable Louisiana PAC, the poll has a 3 percent margin of error.
The election to replace John N. Kennedy as state treasurer is the biggest race on the Oct. 1…
Derrick Edwards ran unsuccessfully in the U.S. Senate race last fall and was the only candidate who polled above single digits.
Edwards says he would increase transparency and accountability on the state’s finances. “Let the people know exactly how their tax dollars are being spent,” he said.
All the major candidates promised to embrace the watchdog role created by Kennedy.
The state treasurer manages revenues and debt, basically ensuring that the bank accounts have enough money to cover the checks he or she signs to pay the bills. The treasurer presides over Bond Commission, which decides which loans to take out to pay for state projects; and brokers the terms of the billions in loans.
But the candidates talked primarily about state budget problems, over which a treasurer has no responsibility.
"The challenges that we are being faced with in our state need someone with qualifications and experience. I'm a fiscal conservative. I've worked under two governors. I have worked very successfully to increase our bond ratings under both governors," Angele Davis said.
She worked for former Gov. Mike Foster, who chairs her campaign, and drafted state budgets during the first two years of Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration. She also ran the tourism department for Mitch Landrieu, when the Democratic mayor of New Orleans was lieutenant governor.
Her son, Davis Kelley, work pink to qualifying in honor of Republican Rep. Julie Stokes, who withdrew from the race last week after being diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer.
Neil Riser, who owns a funeral home in Caldwell Parish, also wore pink to honor Stokes.
“I see what Treasurer Kennedy, now Sen. Kennedy, has done. I think he brought it to the forefront, the role being showing the people and letting them know where wasteful spending is going on,” Riser said.
Riser has chaired the state Senate Revenue & Fiscal Affairs committee, which is in charge of the state's construction projects. He reported having $155,901 available for the treasurer’s race.
John Schroder is a residential developer in fast-growing St. Tammany Parish. He resigned his legislative seat in June to focus on the campaign for treasurer. His campaign had $609,622 on hand.
"I'm a fighter for people. That's what I do. This provides me an opportunity to represent people from a different seat than where I've been the last 10 years,” Schroder said.
One of the announced candidates, Mike Lawrence, dropped out of the race also because of cancer. A former state auditor and accountant, Lawrence also was briefly a campaign strategist for ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke’s U.S. Senate bid last fall.
Lawrence said in a text that the $185,000 of personal funds that he had set aside to run for the treasurer will be redirected, instead, to treat his wife, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. “I will be dedicating all of my time to her potential recovery,” Lawrence said.
Voters in parts of 13 parishes, including much of the Baton Rouge area, Morgan City, around Lafayette, and the bayou parish communities also will be asked to choose a commissioner for the Louisiana Public Service Commission District 2. The five elected PSC commissioners regulate the cost of monthly utility bills as well as telephones, some trucking and cabbie services.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards tapped Houma lawyer Damon J. Baldone to serve as the interim commissioner. Though Baldone was a Democrat when he was in the Louisiana House, he signed up to run for the seat as a Republican.
Former state Rep. Lenar Whitney, R-Houma, officially qualified Wednesday morning to run for the Louisiana Public Service Commission.
Craig Greene, a Baton Rouge physician, also signed up to run as a Republican in the PSC special election.
Melinda Deslatte, of the Associated Press, contributed to this report