Running out of time to energize voters

The American Press

<p class="indent">The campaign to replace Louisiana’s third highest ranking state official, the Secretary of State, has attracted little attention as the Nov. 6 election creeps closer and closer. How we got to this point, though, was anything but quiet.</p><p class="indent">Tom Schedler, who was Louisiana’s chief elections official, resigned in May amid a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against him by a former female co-worker. The lawsuit was filed in February, alleging Schedler harassed the woman for years and punished her when she rebuffed his repeated advances. Schedler’s spokeswoman said the pair had a consensual sexual relationship; the woman’s lawyer denied that.</p><p class="indent">Last week it was announced that Louisiana has agreed to pay the co-worker $149,075 to end the lawsuit and Schedler will personally pay her $18,425 on top of that, according to the state Division of Administration.</p><p class="indent">The November special election will fill the remaining year of Schedler’s term and in the meantime his former first assistant, Kyle Ardoin, has moved into the job.</p><p class="indent">Ardoin, a Republican, is running on the ballot to stay in the position. The other eight candidates are Republicans Heather Gould, A.G. Crowe, “Rick” Edmonds, Thomas J. Kennedy III and Julie Stokes; Democrats Renee Fontenot Free, a Lake Charles native, and “Gwen” Collins-Greenup; and Matthew Paul “Matt” Moreau, no party affiliation.</p><p class="indent">Political donors haven’t seemed to be in a hurry to break out their checkbooks for this race.</p><p class="indent">Ardoin raised the most campaign cash during July 30-Sept. 27 collection period with $140,000, narrowly edging out Stokes, who brought in nearly $134,000 in contributions.</p><p class="indent">Stokes reported the largest amount of money in the bank, dwarfing her competitors with $514,000 on hand. But that includes a $250,000 personal loan. Ardoin held just under $208,000 in his campaign account, including a $25,000 personal loan.</p><p class="indent">Cloud reported nearly $106,000 remaining in her account, but the majority stems from the $100,000 she loaned her campaign in July.</p><p class="indent">Edmonds raised more than $69,000 and closed with about $51,000 on hand. Crowe wrapped up the period with nearly $23,000 in the bank, after receiving about $47,000 in donations. He loaned his campaign $90,000 in June.</p><p class="indent">Free, a former top aide to two secretaries of state, took in more than $36,000 from contributors and ended with about $29,000 in the bank.</p><p class="indent">Three other contenders reported little or no fundraising.</p><p class="indent">There’s even less optimism when it comes to voter turnout with political operatives for the campaigns telling the Baton Rouge Advocate they estimate in the 18-20 percent range — that’s about 600,000 of the state’s 3 million registered voters.</p><p class="indent">Looks like the ultimate winner of the seat will be the one who can energize voters, but there’s little time left to do that.</p><hr /><p class="indent">This editorial was written by a member of the <em>American Press</em> Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include <strong>Crystal Stevenson</strong>, <strong>John Guidroz</strong>, <strong>Jim Beam </strong>and <strong>Mike Jones</strong>.</p>