Voters to settle state treasurer race in runoff

Louisiana’s competition for state treasurer is headed to a runoff between a Democratic lawyer who’s never held elected office and a Republican who resigned a legislative seat to focus on his campaign. Voters whittled the list of contenders in a statewide election Saturday that drew little interest. Democrat Derrick Edwards and Republican John Schroder were the top two vote-getters in the contest to fill a largely ministerial seat that is open for the first time in nearly two decades. With all votes tallied, Edwards led with 31 percent support, compared to 24 percent for Schroder, according to uncertified returns from the Secretary of State’s Office. Fewer than 14 percent of voters across Louisiana cast ballots.

The runoff will be Nov. 18. Also in the election, voters added new provisions to the Louisiana Constitution, selected the next member of Louisiana’s utility regulatory agency and settled municipal races around the state. Treasurer’s Race Though Edwards led the six-candidate field, Schroder is the favorite to win. Edwards, a New Orleans area lawyer who suffered a high school football injury that left him paralyzed, has done little fundraising so far. He was expected to finish the primary in first place because he was the only Democrat in the competition, though he hasn’t won the support of the state’s Democratic Party. Four Republican candidates split 67 percent of the vote, suggesting Schroder — a former state House member, businessman and ex-law enforcement official from St. Tammany Parish — is in the stronger spot for the runoff. Coming in third was Angele Davis, a Baton Rouge business consultant and Republican who was a state budget administrator for Govs. Mike Foster and Bobby Jindal. GOP state Sen. Neil Riser, a funeral home owner and bank board member from Caldwell Parish, finished fourth. Republican John Kennedy held the seat as Louisiana’s chief money manager and investment officer for 17 years, leaving after his U.S. Senate election. The candidates to replace him strayed far from the treasurer’s duties in their advertising. GOP candidates touted conservative credentials. Davis described an allegiance to President Donald Trump and her rural upbringing. Riser reminded people of his anti-tax votes and his sponsorship of constitutional protections for gun owners.

Schroder talked of wanting to cut the budget and rein in high-spending politicians. Edwards said he’ll push for more transparency in government. Kennedy’s top aide, Ron Henson, is working as interim treasurer until someone is elected. Constitutional Amendments Voters statewide added three new provisions to the state constitution. They agreed to an amendment creating a property tax break for all property delivered to a construction site for use in building industrial plants, companies and houses. They supported the expansion of a property tax exemption given to the surviving spouses of police officers and certain others who die in the line of duty to cover spouses of more first responders, such as paramedics. And they backed an amendment directing money from any new gasoline tax into a protected fund for direct transportation costs, not state employee salaries.

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