Louisiana Treasurer to Be Decided in Runoff, with John Schroder Likely to Win

Former state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, is expected to win a Nov. 18 runoff election and become the next state treasurer of Louisiana. (Photo by Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press)

Former state Rep. John Schroder, R-Covington, is the favorite to win a Nov. 18 runoff election and become Louisiana’s next treasurer after finishing second in the state primary held Saturday (Oct. 14).

Strangely, the person who won the primary, New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards, is expected to have very little chance of winning the runoff against Schroder next month. Edwards got into the runoff mostly because he was the only Democrat in the treasurer’s race and had the party’s voting base to himself during the primary.

Edwards did little campaigning and has only been able to raise a few hundred dollars so far for his campaign. Other than the most recent governor’s race, Louisiana has also gone decidedly Republican in statewide elections.

Even the Louisiana Democratic Party has worries about Edwards as a candidate; it has declined to officially endorse him or work for his campaign, in part because he has failed to meet the state legal deadlines for his campaign finance paperwork over the past couple of months.

The four weeks before the general election elections are expected to essentially be a victory lap for Schroder, who is expected to take over for interim Treasurer Ron Henson in January. Henson was appointed treasurer in early 2016 after John Kennedy stepped down to join the U.S. Senate.

Schroder and Edwards beat out state Sen. Neil Riser of Columbia, former state budget chief Angele Davis, Terry Hughes of Lafayette and Joseph Little of Ponchatoula to advance to the runoff election. Riser, Davis and Hughes were Republicans. Little is a registered independent. Schroder, who had more money to spend than anyone else in the race, was able to run much more television advertising ahead of this weekend’s primary than any of his opponents.

This primary was the first competitive race for treasurer in almost two decades; Kennedy, a Democrat-turned-Republican, held the job for 17 years and faced little opposition when running for reelection.

Being treasurer comes with few opportunities to change state policy or enact a political agenda. The treasurer monitors Louisiana’s investments, ensures the governor has enough cash on hand to pay bills and helps approve state construction projects.

The treasurer also is the face of Louisiana for Wall Street, but the job doesn’t come with a lot of direct authority; most financial policy decisions rest with the Legislature and governor.

Nevertheless, former treasurers have used the position as a political launching pad. Both Kennedy and Mary Landrieu won their Senate seats while serving as treasurer. Kennedy used the position to push back on former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s and current Gov. John Bel Edwards’ budget and tax decisions.

When he was treasurer, Kennedy was consistently one of the most popular and well-liked elected officials in the state.

Schroder is expected to largely continue Kennedy’s approach to the position. The Republican said he would use the statewide platform to promote a conservative fiscal agenda — and push back against the governor, a Democrat.

The treasurer’s race typically draws little public attention. It’s usually held during the same election cycle as races for governor, attorney general and other statewide seats, meaning the focus typically is on some other contest.

But even when it was standing alone as a special election this fall — the only statewide race on the ballot — the public didn’t pay much attention. Voter participation across the state was extremely low, according to unofficial numbers Saturday from the Secretary of State’s elections division. Polls showed many people went into voting booths unfamiliar with the candidates running for the job.

Treasurer3881 of 3904 precincts reportingDerrick Edwards12491631.23%John Schroder9597123.99%Angele Davis8669321.67%Neil Riser7260418.15%Terry Hughes110722.77%Joseph D. Little87322.18%

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