SADOW: Louisiana’s Lesser Executive Contests Offer Intrigue

Telegraphed for months in advance, qualifying for Louisiana executive office contests besides governor went largely to script and brought largely predictable clarity to races, if not intrigue.

Lieutenant governor looks like a walkover for Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, drawing token opposition with the exception of GOP former state Sen. Elbert Guillory. This isn’t Guillory’ first statewide rodeo but he doesn’t have a great history in drawing votes statewide and hasn’t reported any consequential raising or spending of campaign funds.

By contrast. in terms of unpredictability, perhaps the most interesting is Secretary of State, where incumbent Republican Kyle Ardoin chose not to run for reelection. GOP Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis is the biggest spender and has a base to work from, while Republican businessman Brandon Trosclair who previously made a legislative run has waged an insurgent campaign based on election integrity. GOP House Speaker Clay Schexnayder is trying to rival Francis in spending, hoping to appeal to state government insiders and crossover Democrats, having had a relationship with them since his speakership election that relied heavily on their support and typically acting sympathetically to their spending agenda unless really pressured by his caucus.

Those plans suffered a setback when current Ardoin deputy and former state Rep. Republican Nancy Landry entered the race, as she also appeals to capitol insiders but not so much Democrats. And Schexnayder received bad news when a quality Democrat, Gwendolyn Collins-Greenup, jumped in. She pushed Ardoin to a runoff in 2019 as well as in the 2018 special election that first put Ardoin in charge.

Her presence makes a runoff between her and Francis, who besides having the most resources also can draw upon his background as a state party activist, including leading it, to corral conservative support, the most likely outcome. Yet a wildcard in the form of the GOP’s Thomas Kennedy adds uncertainty to this scenario. He also ran in 2018 and 2019, gathering nine and then nineteen percent of the vote despite hardly campaigning – apparently all off the fact he shares a last name with the very popular Republican Sen. John Kennedy.


For attorney general, GOP state Rep. John Stefanski may find himself plagued by the same dynamic as Schexnayder. Landry’s solicitor general Republican Liz Murrill has consolidated the conservative vote including the official state party endorsement, leaving greener pastures to the left for Stefanski whose fundraising Murrill has dwarfed. But with apparent state party support personal injury attorney Democrat Lindsey Cheek joined the fray, and although she appears to date to have done little campaigning if the state party gives her modest backing she could steal a runoff spot from Stefanski, where Stefanski’s only chance is to hope for a runoff against Murrill and non-Republicans then overwhelmingly vote for him.

The race for treasurer will be decided by whether GOP former Rep. John Fleming can outlast Republican state Rep. Scott McKnight. Both have raised considerable sums but Fleming can draw upon more personal wealth in a pinch and has the state party’s official endorsement that brings funding advantages. Likely only one will make the runoff with Democrat Dustin Granger who is running just serious enough of a campaign to pick up the necessary support from his party’s registrants by default. Whoever does will defeat him.

For insurance commissioner, 2019 close runner-up Republican Tim Temple, who has poured nearly $2 million of his own cash into the contest, seems to have scared off any quality competition. And for agriculture commissioner, long-time incumbent Republican Mike Strain will be the only statewide elected executive not on a board to escape any competition.



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