We’ve known this was coming for a couple of weeks, but now it’s official – state representative Rick Edmonds (R-Baton Rouge), one of the steadfast fiscal conservatives in the Louisiana House, is throwing his hat in the ring for the open Secretary of State job to be decided in a special election this fall.
A press release from Edmonds’ campaign…
Republican Lawmaker Rick Edmonds announced today he is a candidate for Louisiana Secretary of State in the special election that will be held Nov. 6, 2018.
Edmonds, who currently serves as State Representative in Baton Rouge’s 66th District, will make his announcement at the East Baton Rouge Parish Republican Women’s monthly luncheon at Juban’s Restaurant in Baton Rouge.
He also posted a video today at www.facebook.com/RickEdmondsLA introducing himself to Louisiana voters.
“Louisiana is in desperate need for more conservative leaders,” Edmonds said. “With the topics of voting and elections being so prominently discussed on the national stage, putting the right person with the right principles in this office is now more important than ever.”
“As a legislator, I have served as a watchdog for the taxpayer and a fighter against out-of-control government spending,” he said. “I will take this same watchdog mentality to the Secretary of State’s office by doing everything I can to fight against any and all attempts to weaken secure voting. Only Americans who live in Louisiana should be voting. And, when Louisianans vote, their vote should count. End of story.”
Edmonds is a member of the House Appropriations, Education and Municipal committees, where he has fought hard to reduce fraud and wasteful spending and led efforts to ensure tax dollars are spent efficiently. He is a respected advocate for school choice, quality preschool programs, and stronger pro-life and adoption policies. Recently, he authored legislation to improve voter participation and cut wasteful spending across the state by eliminating low turnout election days on the calendar.
Edmonds works as a senior advisor for Bethany Church, overseeing local outreach and efforts to rebuild the academy. He felt a call to ministry as a young man, and has served congregations in Florida and Louisiana, including Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge and Calvary Baptist Church and Academy in Shreveport. His job responsibilities along the way have included ministry, coaching, teaching, counseling and administrative management. He successfully managed as many as 200 employees and a $12 million annual budget during his tenure, and has been recognized nationally for his leadership in growing local ministries. Edmonds holds a bachelor’s degree from East Texas Baptist University and a Master’s of Divinity from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Edmonds and his wife Cindy recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary. They have four grown, accomplished sons and daughters-in-law, and eight grandchildren.
Edmonds is joining a race which officially has three other main candidates – Democrat attorney Renee Free, Republican state representative Julie Stokes and Republican former state senator A.G. Crowe. It’s expected that Republican state representative Paul Hollis will also jump into the race soon, and there might be other candidates getting in as well. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Edmonds, Crowe and Hollis will jockey for position as the leading conservative in the race, and whichever one of them emerges atop that fight is likely to be in the runoff with Free – and prevail in the final vote.
“I really love the legislature. I love the policy side, I love the camaraderie,” Edmonds told us this morning when asked about choosing to run. “It was a difficult decision, but I feel called to do this.”
He points to his qualifications earned from work in the private sector as a church executive, and through his time in the state legislature. “I’ve had to be a high-level administrator,” he said. “I ran a chuch with 200 employees and a $12-15 million budget. And I’m very happy about putting my record on the line as one of the hardest-working legislators around. I have not missed a day in 10 sessions. Made every committee meeting in education and appropriations. Not only is my voting record impeccable, but so is my work ethic.”
Edmonds said he thinks the Secretary of State can be a position with a high level of visibility, something it hasn’t really been for quite some time. He pointed out that it’s the No. 3 job in state government, and that it has two main functions, both of which matter to Louisianans – administering the state’s elections and electoral process, and processing all the business filings in Louisiana.
“One of the pinnacle points in our democracy is the security of our elections,” Edmonds said. “Look at this Russia stuff – and I don’t agree with a lot of what’s been said, but it points out the crucial importance of protecting our free elections. That’s brought the highest level of attention and emphasis on secure elections in my lifetime.”
Edmonds stressed the importance of securing voting machines from tampering, something which takes a bit of special importance given that over the next several months Louisiana will be changing out all of its voting machines for state-of-the-art replacements, and managing that transition without chaos will obviously be of high importance. That process is the reason former Secretary of State Tom Schedler initially declared his intention to stay on atop the department despite having been plunged into a scandal when an employee of the department accused him of sexual harassment and subsequently released a bevy of e-mails between the two which cast Schedler in an uncomplimentary light.
But he also mentioned the business filing issue, something most people take for granted with respect to the Secretary of State’s office.
“The Secretary of State is responsible for every business filing,” he said. “We ought to make it a flawless process of helping entrepreneurs get off to a great start.
“Laughter and encouragement is like a medicine. We need to give encouragement and a good experience to business owners getting started.”
One thing Edmonds said was a promise he could easily make is he wouldn’t be the source of the kind of untoward publicity the office has generated this year. “There won’t be any scandals during my administration,” he said. “I’ve been married 44 years to my childhood sweetheart, and that speaks to trust and integrity. It’s important to know who you’re electing.
“I’m not perfect, but I’m in love with my wife. When you here about the Secretary of State going forward, if I’m elected, “it’s going to be because this office has turned into a shining light.”
Edmonds said that starting next week he’ll put his campaign on the road with a “Multicity integrity tour,” starting on the 4th of July and culminating with an announcement party in Baton Rouge on July 19. Edmonds expects to qualify for the race on July 20.