Campaign season now official

CAMPAIGNS OFFICIAL — The candidates have qualified and the 2019 election season is now under way. Will the candidates get to the real issues?

Republicans control the Louisiana Legislature and they have a good head start on chalking up even larger numbers. One-third of the lawmaking branch has been re-elected without opposition, and a majority of them are members of the GOP.

Nine candidates signed up to run for governor, but judging from the lineup only four of them may be able to mount effective campaigns. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is seeking a second term, and he has been beating the bushes for a long time now.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, and Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone have also been campaigning, and they are expected to pick up the pace. Gary Landrieu, an independent who is related to the well-known Landrieu family of New Orleans, will benefit from that name recognition.

The other statewide officials seeking re-election are all Republicans and each has opposition.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser of Belle Chasse has two opponents. One of them signed up at the last minute when he heard Nungesser didn’t have any opposition.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who won the office in a special election, has three opponents. One of them, Democrat “Gwen” Collins-Greenup, ran against Ardoin in that special election last November and made the runoff only 9,560 votes shy of tying Ardoin’s total. Ardoin won the runoff with 59 percent of the vote.

State Attorney General Jeff Landry also picked up an opponent at the last minute, Ike Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Plaquemine. Landry was elected in the 2015 general election.

State Treasurer John Schroder has two opponents, a Democrat and a no party candidate. Schroder was elected treasurer in a November 2017 special election after former Treasurer John Kennedy was elected to the U.S. Senate.

Mike Strain, commissioner of agriculture and forestry, has four opponents. One of them is Charlie Greer, a former agriculture department executive who polled 30 percent of the vote in that race in 2015.

Jim Donelon, insurance commissioner, has one opponent. He is Tim Temple, an insurance executive. Strain and Donelon won their posts in the 2015 primary election.

Three senators and seven House members represent Southwest Louisiana. Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, is one of those senators and he is also one of 12 state senators elected without opposition. Eight of the 12 are Republicans and four are Democrats.

Republican Reps. Mark Abraham of Lake Charles and Johnny Guinn of Jennings are among a number of House members seeking seats in the upper chamber. They, along with Republican Kevin Berken of Lake Arthur, are seeking the seat of term-limited Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings. Guinn is also term-limited.

Rep. James Armes, D-Leesville, former Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, Renee Hoffpauir-Klann, R-Leesville, and Mike Reese, RLeesville, are running for the seat of term-limited Sen. John Smith, R-Leesville.

One of the more interesting Senate races statewide saw Rep. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, win the seat being vacated by Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego. Alario, first elected to the House in 1972, has served in the Legislature nearly 48 years, longer than anyone in its 207-year history. He is also the only lawmaker to have served twice as speaker of the House and president of the Senate.

In the House contests, Rep. Ryan Bourriaque, R-Grand Chenier, is one of 37 House members elected without opposition. That is over one-third of the House. Of the 37, 24 are Republicans, 12 are Democrats and 1 is no party.

Reps. Stephen Dwight, R-Westlake, and Stuart Moss, R-Sulphur, each have one opponent. Jacob Marceaux, R-Ragley, is running against Dwight. Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Les Farnum, R-Sulphur, was Moss’ opponent in a special election.

Mike Eason and Phillip Tarver, two Lake Charles Republicans, are seeking the House seat being vacated by Abraham. Marion “Butch” Fox of Lake Arthur, Shalon Latour of Iowa and Troy D. Romero of Iowa are seeking the seat being vacated by Guinn.

Wilford Carter, a former state representative and district judge, is one of three candidates seeking the seat of term-limited Rep. A.B. Franklin, D-Lake Charles. The other two are Kevin Guidry, a member of the Calcasieu Police Jury, and Matilda Green Miller. All three are Lake Charles Democrats.

R. Dewith Carrier, R-Oberlin, Herman Ray Hill, D-Dry Creek, and a former House member, and Kristian Poncho, D-Elton, are seeking the seat held by term-limited Rep. Dorothy Sue Hill, D-Dry Creek. She is the wife of Herman Ray Hill.

One of the more interesting races saw term-limited Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, win his former House seat without opposition. Only Alario has served longer in the Legislature than Thompson, who was first elected to the House in 1975.

Now that the time to qualify for office is over, it will be interesting to see whether candidates for all offices will start talking about issues that are important to the people they want to serve. So far, it hasn’t happened.

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