Just under three months remain until the “Super Tuesday” primary elections, which will bring an assortment of local, parish and state items to voters on Nov. 6.
Tuesday elections are a strange animal.
For the 2012 and 2016 Tuesday ballots – both of which involved presidential elections – voters turned out in record numbers at the polls. In the case of the ’16 election, when Donald Trump won his seat in the Oval Office, it led to one of the closest margins ever in his win over Hillary Clinton.
Two years later, we will see an election with no truly high-profile items on the ballot, which means turnout could prove as dismal as it was for November elections a year ago, when only 8 percent of the parish electorate showed up at the polls.
That 8 percent decided ballots that included a City Council seat in Denham Springs, renewal of a School Board tax and a drainage tax that failed miserably for Districts 5 and 7.
This November’s ballot includes a decision on who will fill the unexpired term of Secretary of State Tom Schedler, who resigned in disgrace amid accusations of sexual harassment of an employee.
Interim officeholder Kyle Ardoin – who previously said he would not run for the seat – threw his hat into the race, along with former state Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Pearl River, and Republicans Rick Edmonds, of Baton Rouge, and Julie Stokes, of Metairie.
Other candidates include Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek; Gwen Collins-Greenup, D-Clinton; Renee Fontenot Free, D-Baton Rouge; Thomas J. Kennedy III, R-Metairie; and Matt Moreau, Zachary (no affiliation).
The job of secretary of state carries numerous responsibilities, ranging from the upkeep of state records to the management of state elections, the latter generally regarded as the toughest part of the job.
Ardoin unexpectedly threw his hat in the race as a means of assuring continuity within the office.
He will likely face his toughest opposition from two state representatives who want to move to bigger and better things in Louisiana government.
Edmonds, who represents a south Baton Rouge district, is an ordained minister who has worked with Bethany World Ministries.
He says he wants restore integrity to the office and also use the office to ease the process of going into business in Louisiana, something he admits is not historically regarded as a responsibility of that office.
He will likely face the toughest challenge from Stokes, a fellow state representative who represents the Kenner/Metairie area.
She had thrown her hat in the ring to fill the unexpired state treasurer term of Sen. John Kennedy, who won the race for U.S. Senate last year, but she backed out after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Stokes, in her second term in the House, is a moderate conservative who fought to keep part of the temporary sales tax intact to avoid deep budget cuts as the session neared its conclusion in June.
Crowe, meanwhile, served 12 years in state government – four in the House and eight in the Senate. Along with Edmonds, he has strong support from the Louisiana Family Forum. He has worked as a businessman in St. Tammany Parish since the early 1980s.
It’s hard to tell how far the interim title will carry Ardoin. It all depends on how aggressive an approach he takes between now and November.
As for Crowe, Edmonds and Stokes, all three have the credentials to land a spot in the runoff.
Stokes will draw largely from the New Orleans area, while Crowe could draw some support there and likely dominate the Northshore area.
Edmonds has the advantage of strong ties in both the northern and southern portion of the state, which gives him invaluable recognition. Stokes, meanwhile, has been in the public eye quite a bit as an outspoken legislator and for her return after her cancer fight.
Never mind what some pundits say about an interim election having little value. For any of these four candidates, the short tenure of less than two years could lead to benefits that will carry them much further along the political horizon.
Keep an eye on these four candidates. You may hear much more from them down the road.