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Julie Stokes, Annie Award guest speaker

Incumbent Congressmen Steve Scalise, Garret Graves and Clay Higgins picked up more opponents Thursday in what was a relatively quiet day for candidates to officially sign up for the November elections.

State Rep. Julie Stokes, R-Kenner, was the only candidate to qualify Thursday for Secretary of State, the only statewide race that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Former state Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Pearl River, and Renée Fontenot Free, D-Baton Rouge and a former first assistant Secretary of State, signed up Wednesday, the first day of qualifying. State Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, is expected to qualify Friday, the last day for candidates to get their names on the ballot.

The four are running to fill out the remaining year in the four-year term of Tom Schedler, who resigned earlier this year after being sued for sexually harassing an employee. The Secretary of State also will be on the ballot in 2019 for a full four-year term.

Voters in November will be asked to choose all six members of the U.S. House of Representatives, a handful of appellate and district court judges, a Public Service Commissioner for the Baton Rouge area, three state representatives, two seats on the Louisiana Supreme Court along with a few mayors, police chiefs and aldermen around the state.

The November election will be followed, where necessary, by a Dec. 8 runoff. Early voting for the primary is from Oct. 23 to Oct. 30, except on Sunday.

Prominent lawyer Richard Ducote, of Covington, filled out the papers and paid the fees to challenge Associate Supreme Court Justice Greg Guidry. Ducote is considered by the legal community to be one of the nation’s leading child abuse/domestic violence litigators.

Guidry is said to be in the running to fill a vacant federal judgeship in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

Guidry spent six years as a district court judge in Jefferson Parish and served three years on the state's 5th Circuit Court of Appeals before being elected the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2008. He represents the high court’s 1st District, which includes all of St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes as well as parts of Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

Louisiana Supreme Court justices serve 10-year terms in office.

As U.S. House majority whip, Scalise is the third most powerful member of Congress. The Jefferson Republican picked up a fourth opponent on Thursday. Frederick "Ferd" Jones is running as an independent from Hammond.

Devin Lance Graham, an independent from Gonzales, is the second challenger for U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge.

Both Scalise and Graves are expected to qualify Friday.

Congressman Higgins, R-Port Barre, already three opponents from Wednesday’s qualifying. Two more signed up on Thursday: Larry Rader, who ran in 2016 as New Iberia Democrat, and Verone Thomas, D-Lake Charles.

Higgins sent an aide to the Secretary of State’s office Thursday with the qualifying paperwork and a check for the fees.

At the top of the ballots this fall will be the Secretary of State’s race. The secretary of state holds the state seal, administers Louisiana’s elections, handles business incorporation documents, archives state government’s papers and is the third highest ranking state official.

Stokes is a certified public accountant who had to drop out of last year’s election for State Treasurer because of cancer treatments. She is now cancer free.

Stokes said that protecting the sanctity of elections would be her top priority.


Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.