Gene Mills 082718

The Rev. Gene Mills, head of Louisiana Family Forum, addressed the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday, Aug. 27, 2018.

Two Republican candidates for Secretary of State in this fall’s election received a top award from Louisiana Family Forum, an influential conservative evangelical group.

But Family Forum’s leader, the Rev. Gene Mills, refused to say who he would support in the Nov. 6 statewide election.

“I generally don’t endorse,” Mills told the Press Club of Baton Rouge on Monday.

Rep. Rick Edmonds, a candidate who once was on Mills’ staff, and Rep. Julie Stokes, who is opposed by many conservatives for her outspoken views on the state’s financial situation, will both receive Life and Liberty Awards for successfully pushing into law issues that that the Baton Rouge group supports.

Stokes, of Kenner, is receiving the group’s recognition for sponsoring legislation that became law that requires age and status verifications to combat human trafficking.

Edmonds, of Baton Rouge, will be honored by the Family Forum for his successful bills that strengthened adoption procedures, Mills said.

Five others are receiving the awards at the group’s annual gala on Sept.27. They are state Sens John Milovich, D-Shreveport; Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton; Neil Riser, R-Columbia; and Baton Rouge Republican Rep. Franklin Foil.

Former Grant Parish prosecutor Ed Tarpley is receiving the Kevin Kane Justice Award for his work promoting legislation required unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials.

Voters across Louisiana also will be voting on the constitutional measure during the Nov. 6 election. The Family Forum supports passage of the measure. Louisiana is one of only two states that don’t require every juror to find a defendant guilty in trials where serious crimes are alleged.

Mills visited the Press Club to talk about the organization’s 2018 Legislative Scorecard.

Fifty Republican House members, three Democrats and one representative without party affiliation backed the group’s positions at least 73 percent of the time on 11 bills that dealt with gambling, abortion and protections for those espousing conservative positions on college campuses. Most bills need 53 votes to pass the Louisiana House.

Seventeen of the 39 state senators backed Family Forum stances in three out of four votes.

Eleven House members and seven state senators backed Family Forum positions on the bills 100 percent of the time.

“LFF chose votes reflecting a variety of issues from gambling to protecting free speech on college campuses, which provides a snapshot of how lawmakers voted at the State Capitol,” said Gene Mills, President of LFF. “We encourage the people of Louisiana to use this scorecard to analyze how their lawmakers represented family values,”

In addition to Edmonds and Stokes, the other candidates for Louisiana's chief elections officer are interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, R-Baton Rouge; Turkey Creek Mayor Heather Cloud, a Republican; Gwen Collins-Greenup, D-Clinton; former state Sen. A.G. Crowe, a Pearl River Republican; Renee Fontenot Free, D-Baton Rouge, a former first assistant secretary of state; Thomas J. Kennedy III, R-Metairie; and Matt Moreau, no party-Zachary.

Ardoin, the office’s top deputy for the past eight years, took over the post when Tom Schedler resigned under allegations of sexually harassing an employee.

The election is to fill out the remaining year of Schedler’s term. The winner will have to stand election again next fall for a full, four-year term as secretary of state fall.

The Nov. 6 primary will be followed, if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, by a Dec. 8 runoff. Early voting for the primary is from Oct. 23 to Oct. 30, except on Sunday.

Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.