LIVE BLOG: Today Is The First Day Of Qualifying For This Fall’s Elections

UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.

– Oscar “Omar” Dantzler is running for governor, which could be a significant thing as we discussed yesterday. Dantzler qualified a short while ago.

– Yes, Patrick “Live Wire” Landry is the same guy who ran for Congress in 1999 (that was the race where David Vitter first won federal office) on a sexual-abstinence-before-marriage platform and bragged that he was a 33-year old virgin, and yes, he’s the same guy who ran for governor in 2003 on the platform of building flying cars in Louisiana (which is not as crazy an idea now as it was then, and is especially not a bad idea if you consider traffic in Baton Rouge).

– Another candidate qualifying today is a Democrat opponent for Mike Strain as agriculture commissioner, Margee Green of New Orleans. She’s exactly who you’d expect she is as a white Democrat from New Orleans running for agriculture commissioner. She’s wearing Birkenstocks in the front page picture, and her bio contains this:

Marguerite “Margee” Green puts her passion for agriculture into practice. A Louisiana native, who has worked as a farmer for over a decade, Green believes in the dignity of farming and its vital role in the health and success of our state. She works every day to create a thriving agricultural community that feeds Louisiana. Margee’s passion for food production and access began at Louisiana State University where she studied Plant and Soil Systems. Her career path was inspired by her first-hand food insecurity in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina left much of the Gulf South without fresh food, and inspired Margee to grow vegetables to feed her community in times of need.

She is the executive director of SPROUT NOLA, a nonprofit that supports a healthy local food system in New Orleans and develops beginning farmers statewide. Margee is a founding organizer of the Greater New Orleans Growers Alliance, an extensive network of growers who advocate for farmer’s needs on the state and national levels. Green also co-founded the New Orleans Flower Collective, a mutual aid and professional organization for area flower farmers.

– Kirk Talbot has an opponent, as conservative activist Arita Bohannon has now qualified in Senate District 10.

– The Senate District 25 race has gotten a little more crowded, as state Rep. Johnny Guinn has joined Rep. Mark Abraham and rice grower Kevin Berken.

– Barry Milligan has now qualified against John Milkovich in Senate District 38. That’s going to be one of the races we’re watching heavily as a very strong potential D-to-R flip this fall. Milligan, a commercial banker and business consultant, is a terrific candidate. Milkovich is nuts, and he’s a Democrat in a district Trump carried with 57 percent of the vote and John Kennedy carried in the 2016 Senate race with 60 percent.

– Danny McCormick, a conservative rising star from Vivian, has qualified in House District 1. That’s a seat coming open due to Jim Morris being term limited. McCormick is considered a heavy favorite to win.

– In House District 15, two more Republicans have qualified to join Foy Gadberry and Ryan Reid – Drake Graves, a New York Life agent from Monroe, and Justin Tidwell, a West Monroe doctor who is currently Director of Hybrid Vascular Services at Glenwood Regional Medical Center.

– The conventional wisdom says Scott McKnight, who’s running in House District 68, is a cinch to win. But that hasn’t stopped a pair of opponents from cropping up. Republican Laurie Adams, who is Director of Advancement and Enrollment Management at Parkview Baptist School, and Democrat Joshua “Fini” Hajiakbarifini, whose campaign website says he’s a banker who wants to “help Governor Edwards pass popular policies that will help all Louisianans.” It’s a somewhat conservative district – Trump managed 52 percent, while Kennedy got 60 percent – but McKnight has the upper hand.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.

– Gwen Collins-Greenup, who finished second in the special election for Secretary of State last year, has qualified again. So we’ll have a rematch between Collins-Greenup and Kyle Ardoin, just like we’ll have a rematch between John Schroder and Derrick Edwards for the Treasurer’s race. Those two squared off in the 2017 special election. Schroder hasn’t qualified just yet, but he obviously will.

– There was some question whether Karen Carter Peterson would run for re-election, as the rumor mill had it she would be going for national vice-committeewoman at the Democrat Party’s headquarters. But Peterson just qualified for her third term despite what looks like a lot more unfriendly state senate than what she’s enjoyed in her first two terms.

– J. Rogers Pope has now qualified to run against Edith Carlin in Dale Erdey’s old Senate District 13, and the two aren’t alone – Deven Cavalier, who owns a wedding and event planning business and is also a minister, has also qualified.

– Cleo Fields has now qualified, so the Cleo Fields-Pat Smith rumble in Senate District 14 is on.

– Mike Reese has now qualified in Senate District 30.

– Neil Riser’s old Senate seat in District 32 is set to be the scene of an interesting battle. So far it’s a three-way race there – former Caldwell Parish sheriff Steve May, a Republican, is in, as is Democrat Catahoula Parish police juror Judy Duhon, whose website touts her conservatism but who was recruited to run by the ultra-left organization Emerge Louisiana. But the most interesting candidate in the race so far might be construction company CEO Glen Womack of Harrisonburg, a Republican.

– With Jay Morris running for the Senate, his House District 14 seat is up for grabs. So far the only candidate for it is Monroe city councilman Michael Echols, a Republican whose day job is Director of Business Development for Vantage Health Plan and Affinity Health Group.

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.

– Someone named Patrick “Live Wire” Landry, a Republican, has qualified for governor. So has someone named John Bel Edwards. That gives us four candidates in the race, while we wait to see if Gary Landrieu and Oscar “Omar” Dantzler get in.

– Brenda Laroux Babin, a Democrat, has entered the Senate District 20 race. That isn’t good news for Damon Baldone, who was hoping to be the stand-in Democrat.

– In Senate District 30, which is open after term limits claimed John Smith, former state representative Brett Geymann has qualified along with Republican Renee’ Hoffpauir-Klann, a former Vernon Parish School Board member. Leesville Businessman Mike Reese, thought to be the favorite in the race, hasn’t yet qualified.

– State representative Katrina Jackson has qualified for Senate District 34, the seat vacated by the term-limited Francis Thompson. Stewart Cathey and Wade Bishop are the candidates in Mike Walsworth’s old District 33 seat.

This will be something of a process, as there’s a multi-day window for candidates to formally announce in the statewide, legislative and other races set for the October 12 primary this fall. As such, we’ll just live-blog the highlights of the qualifiers as they come in. There are already quite a few interesting nuggets of information.

As of 11:15 a.m…

– Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone have qualified for governor. Nobody else has. The thing to watch for is whether Gary Landrieu or Oscar “Omar” Dantzler will follow through on their announcements and qualify, and to see who else might get in before it’s over. This is the kind of race where it wouldn’t be a surprise to see David Duke rear his head, for example, so don’t be surprised if that happens.

– Derrick Edwards is running for Treasurer again. He might be John Schroder’s only opponent. So far Edwards, Tim Temple, who’s running for Insurance Commissioner, and Peter Williams, a black Democrat from Baton Rouge we’d never heard of who is running against Mike Strain for Agriculture Commissioner, are the only opponents for the Republican statewide incumbents. All are expected to win handily.

– The expected three-way race for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Greg Guidry’s appointment to a federal judgeship is on, and you’re going to hear a good deal about that race. Things got a rather serious shakeup when state appellate judge Hans Liljeberg of Metairie jumped in last month; before that it was thought district judge Scott Schlegel of Metairie and appellate judge Will Crain of Covington were going to be in a head-to-head race with Schlegel having a population advantage as the “south shore” candidate. Now, with Liljeberg splitting the “south shore” vote, Schlegel is in a bit different position. He might still make the runoff, though. All three are Republicans; it wouldn’t be a surprise if no Democrat qualifies, as a Democrat can’t win that suburban New Orleans seat.

– Troy Brown is back. He’s running against Ed Price for the Senate seat he had before he was forced to resign after a domestic abuse arrest. If Brown beats Price it’ll be time to break up that district in the next reapportionment.

– Joe Bouie and John Bagneris are running in Senate District 3, which was J.P. Morrell’s seat before he was term-limited. That will be a somewhat interesting race, though it’s unlikely we’re going to like anybody who wins that seat. Bouie is as bad as Morrell, but he’d still be preferable to Morrell because he’s a dunce. Morrell was a smart legislator who caused a lot of trouble. Bagneris could potentially be someone whose vote could be had on a decent bill once in a while.

– The rumor has it Wesley Bishop, who has some ethical and possibly legal issues to contend with, won’t be running in Senate District 4. That rumor picked up steam this morning when Rep. Jimmy Harris qualified for that seat. Harris would be a colossal improvement over Bishop; he’s one of the most reasonable members of the Legislative Black Caucus.

– In a trio of term-limited Jefferson Parish seats, Patrick Connick has qualified for John Alario’s old 8th District seat and Cameron Henry has qualified for Conrad Appel’s old 9th District seat. Both are current House members. Connick would be an improvement over Alario, while Henry would essentially be a conservative hold in Appel’s seat. Also, fellow House member Kirk Talbot has qualified for Danny Martiny’s old 10th District seat. Talbot would be a massive upgrade. He’s reportedly going to get a challenge from conservative activist Arita Bohannon, though Talbot is going to be the favorite there.

– Dale Erdey has been termed out of Senate District 13, and conservative activist Edith Karlin of Denham Springs has qualified for that race. Karlin is a rising star; the rumor has it she’ll be up against current state representative J. Rogers Pope in what could be an interesting intra-Republican race.

– In a pair of races in majority-black Baton Rouge districts, Rep. Pat Smith has qualified in Senate District 14; her likely opponent, who will qualify shortly, is going to be Cleo Fields – who held that seat until he was termed out 12 years ago. And in District 15, Regina Barrow is getting a challenge from one Gary Chambers in a race that will certainly be a hoot.

– Senate District 20 is scheduled to be one of the biggest conservative flips in the whole legislature this year, as the seat is being vacated by old-school RINO Norby Chabert and the favorite to win it is conservative businessman Mike Fesi. But Fesi will have a race, as former state representative Damon Baldone, who like Chabert is nobody’s conservative and once attempted to register as both a Democrat and a Republican at the same time, has qualified.

– The Lake Charles-area Senate 25 seat which was held by RINO Blade Morrish until he was mercifully termed out will be a battleground this fall. Representative Mark Abraham has qualified, as has Lake Arthur Republican Kevin Berken, a rice and soybean farmer. There will likely be more.

– Another termed-out seat in southwestern Louisiana is Senate District 28, where the expected field has already materialized. Turkey Creek mayor Heather Cloud is the Republican in the race, while a pair of Democrat state representatives, Robert Johnson and Bernard LeBas, are both running. The district was formerly represented by Democrat Eric Lafleur, but it’s a Trump-friendly area which gave the president 70 percent of the vote in 2016. Cloud might be the favorite to flip that seat.

– The expected Robert Mills-Ryan Gatti race in Senate District 36 is now on, as is the expected Douglas Brown-Louie Bernard race in District 35, which is Gerald Long’s old seat. Another contender in District 35, Trey Flynn, hasn’t qualified yet. Bernard is the favorite to win, though he’s not seen as somebody who would be an improvement over Long (whose voting record definitely needed improvement). In District 36 a black Democrat, Mattie Preston, has jumped into the race which insures Gatti can’t win in the primary.

– Rep. Jay Morris is running for Senate District 35 against incumbent Jim Fannin, but a third candidate, Matt Parker, is also in the race. Fannin hasn’t qualified yet.

– Sen. Greg Tarver, who was recently in the news over revelations that he uses campaign funds to lease a Mercedes-Benz SUV, has a challenger in District 39. It’s Rep. Barbara Norton. Tarver actually turns out to be a must-keep senator with that news; it’s long past time Norton be sent home.

– In House races of note, Rep. Alan Seabaugh has picked up a challenger in leftist Democrat LSUS professor Brian Salvatore, who has zero chance to win. Another interesting North Louisiana race will be for the term-limited Frank Hoffmann’s seat in District 15; so far Foy Gadberry and Ryan Reid have both qualified, with Drake Graves likely to join them. That will likely be a race to the right, as District 15 gave Trump 87 percent of the vote in 2016 – the highest number of any House district.

– Two termed-out Senators have qualified for House seats – Francis Thompson in District 19 and Neil Riser in District 20. Riser has an opponent in black Democrat Tammy Reed.

– One swing seat in the House is District 32, where Dorothy Sue Hill, a Democrat, is term-limited. Hill’s grandson Herman Ray Hill is running to replace her against Republican Dewith Carrier. That’s a seat the GOP should be able to flip this fall.

– In District 33, Les Farnum and Stuart Moss will have a rematch. Moss won the first round in a special election earlier this year.

– Dalton Honore has qualified to run against Barbara Carpenter in House District 63, in what might be an interesting race.

– In District 66, Rick Edmonds has already drawn two challengers – Libertarian David Smith, and Democrat Morgan Lamandre. The latter made news earlier when the state Board of Ethic ruled against her spending campaign cash on day care. That ruling was later reversed.

– Julie Stokes opted not to run for re-election in District 79, and now there’s a race to replace her which so far will be between former prosecutor Debbie Villio and Maria DeFrancesch, a Kenner city councilwoman.

– Other Jefferson House races include John Mason challenging Polly Thomas in District 80, Charles Henry qualifying for his brother Cameron’s District 82 seat and a pair of black Democrats, Kyle Green and James Simmons, squaring off in the District 83 race which would have been the seat Alario would have run for had he opted to.

– Johnny Berthelot opted not to run for re-election in District 88, which has set up something of a free-for-all race between Republicans Brandon Trosclair, Kathy Edmonston and Ryan Beissinger. Of the three, Beissinger is the one who appears most intriguing, though Edmonston, a former BESE member, might be the favorite.

– Walt Leger was termed out in District 91, and now that Democrat seat will be a free-for-all between a pair of white Uptown Democrats in Carling Dinkler and Mandie Landry, as well as black Democrat Robert McKnight. McKnight is probably the more conservative of the three.

– The Stefanie Hilferty-Kirk Williamson-Tammy Savoie Ragnarok race in District 94 is now fully engaged. That will be one of the more fun races in the whole state.

– Former congressional candidate Ravi Sangisetty, who ran for the old 7th District seat won by Jeff Landry before it was eliminated in the last round of redistricting, has resurfaced in New Orleans as a candidate for Neil Abramson’s District 98 seat. Three white Democrats are in the race with Sangisetty.

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