Louisiana fall elections sign-up period opens Wednesday

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Candidates seeking seats in Louisiana’s fall election have to declare their intentions and register for their races this week, in the sign-up period opening Wednesday.

Top of the Nov. 6 ballot are Louisiana’s U.S. House elections and a special election for secretary of state, to fill the position vacated by Republican Tom Schedler after he was accused of sexual harassment by one of his employees. Contenders for those jobs must submit their elections paperwork at the secretary of state’s office.

Qualifying runs through Friday.

Louisiana’s six incumbent congressmen are running for re-election: Republican Steve Scalise of Jefferson in the 1st District; Democrat Cedric Richmond of New Orleans in the 2nd District; Republican Clay Higgins of Port Barre in the 3rd District; Republican Mike Johnson of Benton in the 4th District; Republican Ralph Abraham of Alto in the 5th District and Republican Garret Graves of Baton Rouge in the 6th District.

Richmond, Johnson and Abraham have no challengers who have done any reported fundraising so far. While Scalise and Graves have drawn opponents, the GOP congressmen have significantly more money on hand for their races than those seeking to oust them.

Meanwhile, several challengers are running against Higgins for the district seat representing southwest and south central Louisiana. Higgins lags behind many of his fellow incumbents in fundraising, raising questions about his vulnerability. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for President Donald Trump, attended a Lafayette fundraiser to help Higgins’ GOP opponent Josh Guillory. But Trump supports Higgins, along with the state Republican Party.

Several congressmen are expected to send representatives to file their qualifying paperwork, rather than appear in person amid congressional debates in Washington.

At least four candidates are vying to be secretary of state, seeking to fill the remaining year of Schedler’s term. Whoever wins will have to run again next year to hang onto the job as Louisiana’s chief elections official and overseer of the state archives.

The contenders include Republican former Sen. A.G. Crowe of Slidell; Republican Rep. Rick Edmonds of Baton Rouge; Democrat Renee Fontenot Free of Slaughter, director of the attorney general’s public protection division; and Republican Rep. Julie Stokes of Kenner.

In Louisiana, all candidates regardless of party run against each other in the primary. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Candidates for local municipal races must sign up at their parish clerk of court’s office Wednesday through Friday.