Secretary of State Tom Schedler, the man in charge of elections in Louisiana, now asks a simple question when meeting local officials: “How many of you know there’s an election on Oct. 14?”
Few hands are raised among politically active officials who presumably are more aware than everyday voters.
A week of early voting begins Saturday to replace longtime treasurer John Kennedy, who became a U.S. Senator in January. A runoff for the top two vote-getters is scheduled for Nov. 18, if no single candidate receives a majority vote Oct. 14.
The three major Republican candidates — former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis, of Baton Rouge; former state Rep. John Schroder, of Covington; and state Sen. Neil Riser, of Columbia — have almost all the money and have done most of the campaigning. But they have attracted little attention outside their own regions.
With a dozen days to go before voting begins statewide, the three main Republicans running f…
New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards, the sole Democrat in the race, is leading in the polls but has done little campaigning. He didn’t attend Monday’s forum hosted by the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
The state treasurer has about 30 legally-prescribed duties, including chairing the State Bond Commission.
Essentially, a treasurer acts as Louisiana’s banker, pooling the money that come in from taxes and fees, policies over which he or she has no official input, then writes the checks that pays the bills when told to by the heads of other agencies. When the money is not in use, a treasurer makes short-term investments, often for only a day or two, to raise a few extra bucks for the treasury.
The candidates, however, are talking about creating new jobs and fixing the budget and gun rights — just about anything other than what a treasurer actually does.
Davis blames the media and liberals for President Donald Trump being unable to get his infrastructure agenda advanced.
State treasurer candidate Angele Davis has never been elected to anything, but she's worked …
Riser speaks of voting against the sales tax increase and the need for drainage infrastructure.
Schroder says he has the “guts to say word 'no' ” to raising taxes and spending more money than the government has.
Edwards wants to “stop cuts to education, health care and wasteful government spending.”
None of those issues are in the purview of the treasurer’s official job, but the three major Republicans said during Monday’s forum that they are pertinent.
Trump wants to use public-private partnerships to invigorate spending and improve the nation’s highways and bridges, Davis said. A treasurer can talk to investors and leverage the role of the Bond Commission to develop financing partnerships, she said.
Out of government for the past seven years, Davis, 49, describes herself as a “country girl.” She learned to hunt, fish and drive a tractor while growing up in the Felicianas.
Davis was deputy commissioner of administration under Republican Gov. Mike Foster; ran the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism under Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu; and was the commissioner of administration and budget chief for Gov. Bobby Jindal for the first 2½ years of his term.
She wrote the initial budget for Jindal — Riser voted against it — but said she left his employ before the accounting techniques that Schroder calls “smoke and mirrors” started being blamed for the state’s fiscal problems.
“The treasurer doesn’t vote on the budget,” Riser said after the forum on Monday. But those votes are a clear indication of the candidate’s philosophy.
“I have a clear conservative voting record, the most conservative voting record in this race. At the same time, I have been able to work across the aisle with anyone. My door is always open,” Riser said.
He was elected in 2007 on his second try and immediately got a chairmanship of the Senate labor committee. He was a key sponsor of the bill that changed the Labor Department’s name to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Riser has repeatedly opposed legislation to raise the minimum wage and to provide workplace protections for LGBT employees. In his second term, Riser was named chair of the Senate Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Committee, which oversees tax policy, public construction projects and provides a seat on the Bond Commission.
In his third term, Riser was one of the few legislators who voted against the penny sales tax increase. Schroder voted for the increase but only after it included a three-year sunset amendment. The extra penny expires June 30, and state government then faces a $1 billion shortfall in revenues.
Schroder said he talks about the state’s fiscal troubles on the campaign trail to protect the Louisiana’s bond rating, which determines what kind of interest rate state government receives when it takes out loans.
“Our bond rating is a reflection of our revenue and spending habits. I talk about it so much because if you’re going to correct our bond rating, then you have to get your spending and revenue in check,” Schroder said.
Schroder sponsored the legislation that created in 2016 the blue-ribbon Task Force on Structural Changes in Budget and Tax Policy panel that came up with ideas to strengthen the state's financial structure. The proposals were widely praised but almost universally ignored during the 2017 legislative sessions.
Schroder’s ads and rhetoric leans more on his work in the U.S. Army and as an Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputy than it does on the quarter-century he has spent developing and building residential properties on the fast-growing north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
He was punished in April 2010 with the loss of his seat on the House Appropriations Committee for two years after supporting a Democrat for the post of speaker pro tem. In December 2015, he was targeted by tea party-affiliated groups, who usually support him, for “selling out Republicans” after the Democratic candidate for House Speaker said Schroder was his pick to chair the budget-writing appropriations committee.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting President and CEO Beth Courtney wanted to test the candidates during Monday’s forum. She asked if they knew the amount of money being held in one of the largest funds the treasurer oversees directly.
They all failed when she asked if they could say how much was in the 8(g) account to flows into the Louisiana Education Quality Trust Fund and the Louisiana Quality Education Support Fund. 8(g) refers to a part of federal law that provides Louisiana a share of offshore oil and gas revenues. In 1986, Louisiana dedicated this federal money to pay for education.
Interim Treasurer Ron Henson knew off the top of his head: $1.2 billion.
For years, Ron Henson was the one left behind at the Treasury Department when John N. Kenned…
Democratic candidate Edwards has quite a compelling story.
Playing defense on the John F. Kennedy High School football team, the 12th-grader broke his neck in an on-field collision with a much larger player from St. Augustine High School during a game at Tad Gormley stadium in New Orleans City Park.
Unable to use his arms and legs, doctors said he would need 24-hour care and pressed his mother, a school teacher, to institutionalize Edwards. She refused and stood on street corners soliciting money from passing motorists to help pay for the changes their home needed to accommodate a quadriplegic.
Edwards graduated with his class, then went on to earn bachelors’ and master’s degrees in accounting from Tulane University and law degree from Loyola University.
Since November 2007, Edwards has practiced law and travels the country as a motivational speaker.
Edwards, 45, was the first quadriplegic to run for the U.S. Senate last year. He came in eighth among 24 candidates, polling 51,774 votes out of 1.93 million cast.
One of the earliest to announce for treasurer, Edwards has raised little money and done little campaigning.
The leadership of the state Democratic Party, concerned that Edwards had no discernable plan and had missed filing deadlines for disclosures required by the Louisiana Board of Ethics, has opted not to recommend endorsing him.
Libertarian candidate Joseph D. Little is a mail carrier in Ponchatoula. He joined the U.S. Navy out of high school in 2005. He received an economics degree from LSU in 2014.
Little said on his Facebook page that he would be like Kennedy and make known his recommendations on budgetary matters. He’d post the budget on the treasurer’s website.
“Just as my predecessor did, I will not hesitate to call out the legislature on their overspending,” Little wrote. “Unlike my predecessor and many of my opponents, I have no intention of being a career politician or using this position as a means to increase my visibility in the eyes of the voters.”
Republican businessman Terry Hughes, of Lafayette, is making his second bid for public office. He challenged Republican state Sen. Page Cortez in 2015 but lost as candidate without party affiliation.
This time, Hughes is running a self-funding campaign, telling KADN-TV: “I’m not a lawyer. I’m not a doctor. I’m just a hard working person, and I don’t mind stepping on peoples toes.”
In fawning media coverage that included images of him handing checks to everyday people, Joh…