Sam Hanna Jr.

Qualifying for the Oct. 12 primary election in Louisiana got underway Tuesday and will wrap up at the close of business on Thursday.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, a Republican who was elected last year in a special election on the heels of Tom Schedler’s resignation, was the first statewide candidate to qualify Tuesday morning. Ardoin expects to be opposed by the Democrat he met in the run-off in the 2018 election, Gwen Collins-Greenup. You may recall Collins-Greenup pulled some 41 percent of the vote in the run-off against Ardoin, and she did it with sparse resources.

As expected two Republicans — 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone — qualified to oppose Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only statewide elected official who is a Democrat. The governor’s race is drawing national attention in light of Edwards being the only Democrat governor in the Deep South. As you might expect, Republicans are itching for President Trump to weigh in on the race since Trump’s approval rating among white voters in Louisiana is far north of 80 percent.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, a Republican who previously served as Plaquemines Parish president, qualified for re-election Tuesday as well. Nungesser, whose father was a mover and shaker in Republican circles in Louisiana when Republicans were few and far between, is considered a likely candidate for governor in four years. That’s assuming Edwards is re-elected this fall.

Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican who never met a controversy he didn’t like, signed up for re-election on Tuesday, too. Landry’s most recent foray into ginning up headlines about himself was his insistence that Louisiana do a better job executing convicted killers.

Insurance executive Tim Temple, a Republican, qualified to oppose Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon. A Republican as well, Donelon is seeking his fourth full term as the state’s point man on insurance matters. Temple says he’ll part with some of his personal fortune to unseat Donelon.

Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain, another Republican, qualified Tuesday morning. Democrats have criticized Strain recently for his perceived foot-dragging in rolling out the state’s medical marijuana program. Strain’s office is overseeing Louisiana’s venture into the medical marijuana craze.

As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, Strain had drawn token opposition.

Though qualifying won’t end until Thursday afternoon, Republican statewide office holders aren’t expected to draw any serious competition from Democrats. Perhaps Ardoin has the toughest race on his hands, but by and large, Republicans have it easy. That’s the case because the state Democrat Party doesn’t have a deep bench, or a healthy number of Democrat candidates at its disposal who could mount a viable campaign for statewide office.

Think about it.

Forty years ago, then-Congressman Dave Treen was the lone Republican candidate for governor in a field dominated by well-known Democrats including Louis Lambert, Bubba Henry, Paul Hardy and Jimmy Fitzmorris among others. Treen won thanks to outgoing Gov. Edwin Edwards manipulating the outcome to set the stage for his comeback in 1983, but he won nonetheless.

It makes you wonder if John Bel Edwards’ election four years ago was an outlier like Treen’s election in 1979.

We’ll know in a matter of weeks.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at samhannajr@samhannajr.com.

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