Chas Roemer, the president of Louisiana’s top school board and one of the state’s top backers of Common Core, said Wednesday he has opted against seeking a third term.
“I have never sought to be a lifelong politician,” he told The Advocate in an interview. “I have other things to do.”
Roemer has been undecided for weeks on whether to seek re-election.
However, his announcement shakes up the contests for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education at a crucial time.
Educators and others just launched a review of Common Core, eight of 11 BESE seats will be on the Oct. 24 primary ballot and the results will help determine the future of sweeping changes in public schools since 2012.
BESE will recommend what and how Common Core should be changed, which means the primary contests and Nov. 21 runoffs will help determine whether the panel retains its pro-Common Core tilt.
All the activity took place on the second day of political filings, and Mayor-President Kip Holden made it official when he formally entered the contest for lieutenant governor.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler also filed for re-election.
Roemer made his announcement moments after 29-year educator Laree Taylor, principal at Devall Middle School in Port Allen, filed for his District 6 post.
Asked her thoughts on Common Core, Taylor said, “What is most important to me is that we develop a set of rigorous standards for students.”
Roemer said he could back Taylor’s bid to succeed him.
Veteran educator Kathy Edmonston, of Gonzales, entered the race on Tuesday.
Roemer, who is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, said personal considerations played a role in his decision.
“My business is doing well and requires more of my time,” he said. Roemer is a private equity manager.
“And my kids are at that age, seventh grade and high school, where I just worry about being around enough for them,” he said.
Roemer is an ally of state Superintendent of Education John White.
Both are often blasted by critics of Common Core, school letter grades and tougher oversight of teachers.
Both also generally backed sweeping changes in public schools that Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed through the Legislature in 2012, as did a majority of BESE.
However, Roemer and White had a monthslong, public falling out with Jindal over Common Core, which the governor now opposes.
Holden is the lone Democrat in a four-man contest. Republicans John Young, Billy Nungesser and Elbert Guillory filed on Tuesday. All four hope to succeed Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who is running for governor.
Holden, accompanied by his wife, Lois, downplayed the fundraising gap of his campaign compared with Young’s and Nungesser’s.
In the latest reports available, Holden reported having $68,147 in his campaign coffers compared with $2.25 million for Young and $1.64 million for Nungesser, including a $500,000 loan.
“We have never run a campaign where we have been flush with a whole lot of money,” Holden said. “We are going to make the buys we need to make.”
Nungesser is former president of Plaquemines Parish. Young is the president of Jefferson Parish. Gullory is a state senator from Opelousas.
Holden, who is serving his third term as mayor-president in East Baton Rouge Parish, downplayed the lack of success Democrats have had in recent statewide elections.
He said he has a history of overcoming election odds, enjoys widespread name recognition and has a network of elected officials in his corner from his years in state and local government elected posts.
“There are a lot of great people throughout Baton Rouge, throughout the state of Louisiana, who are willing to look at the performance of candidates and not just judge them by the color of their skin,” said Holden, who is African-American.
Schedler waited until Wednesday morning to pay his office the $900 in fees and sign the documents that put him the race for re-election.
Schedler, who assumed office in 2010 and was elected to a full term in 2011, likened his delay in qualifying to having a dinner party, inviting lots of guests, then eating first. “I felt it best to get everyone else out of the way, at least the majority of them,” Schedler said.
His office was crowded with candidates, supporters and protesters Tuesday, the first day of qualifying for the Oct. 24 election. Most of the expected candidates signed up then. Qualifying continues until close-of-business Thursday.
Wednesday was slow with Baton Rouge lawyer Charlotte C. McDaniel McGehee signing up to challenge Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon’s re-election. She’s a Democrat who says Louisiana’s insurance rates are too high.
Charlie Greer retired a few years ago from the forestry enforcement section of the state Department of Agriculture & Forestry and on Wednesday qualified to challenge the re-election campaign of Commissioner Mike Strain. Greer, a Democrat, says the department has laid off too many employees and cut its budget too much.
Mark Ballard, of The Advocate’s Capitol news bureau, contributed to this report. Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.the advocate.com/politicsblog/.