Baton Rouge Mayor Qualifies For Lieutenant Governor's Race

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The competition for the Louisiana lieutenant governor's job picked up its first Democratic contender, as Baton Rouge Mayor Kip Holden signed up for the race Wednesday on the second day of the election qualifying period.

         He joins three Republican candidates who registered a day earlier: state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas, former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish President John Young.

         The lieutenant governor leads Louisiana's Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and serves as the figurehead for the state's $11 billion tourism industry.

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         Young described the lieutenant governor as "the face of Louisiana, the ambassador for the state, the No. 1 salesman." Young and Nungesser lead the fundraising competition, but Holden suggested he needed less money because he has stronger name recognition from his tenure as a state lawmaker and his three terms as Baton Rouge mayor.

         "We never ran a campaign where we were flush with a lot of money," Holden said. "We're right now where we need to be."

         Qualifying for elections on the Oct. 24 ballot runs through Thursday.

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         Races for governor and lieutenant governor are wide open, without incumbents and with jam-packed fields. Louisiana's five other statewide elected officials have registered opponents, though some of the challengers have done little fundraising.

         Secretary of State Tom Schedler officially signed up for his re-election bid Wednesday, describing his proposal to bring iPad voting to Louisiana if elected to another term in office.

         Schedler's office is where candidates for statewide positions submit their qualifying paperwork and filing fees. But the Republican secretary of state waited until the second day of the sign-up period to add his name to the ballot, allowing the crowds of the first day to clear out.

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         "It would be like inviting people to dinner and going through the buffet line first," Schedler said, explaining why he waited to qualify for his race.

         The secretary of state is Louisiana's chief elections official. He's drawn a Democratic challenger in the race, Baton Rouge law professor Chris Tyson, who said Tuesday that he'd seek to modernize the office and provide more ways and opportunities for people to vote.

         Schedler said he's seeking to upgrade Louisiana's voting technology by replacing voting machines statewide with iPads. The idea is that voters could enter their election choices on a mock ballot on a cellphone app, arrive at their voting site and transfer those votes from their phones to an iPad with a swipe.

         The plan, which would replace voting machines that are up to 20 years old, is estimated to cost anywhere from $45 million to $60 million, so Schedler would have to sell lawmakers on his plan, which he'd like to start rolling out in stages within three years.

         Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, both Republicans, also picked up second challengers Wednesday.

         Charlotte McDaniel McGehee, a Democrat and lawyer from the Baton Rouge area, signed up to run against Donelon. Charlie Greer, a Democrat and retired agriculture department employee from Natchitoches, qualified to run against Strain, criticizing the deep budget cuts that Strain has made to the department.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte



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