Four weeks, counting for Louisiana races|[09/22/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 22, 2007

In four weeks, voters in Louisiana’s East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes will choose candidates in six statewide offices, including hotly contested races for governor and attorney general.

All six feature three or more candidates with the top two advancing to runoffs Nov. 17 — the result of the state’s nonpartisan, open primary system. Candidates with longtime regional ties figure to maximize their home bases in the primary, with two such north Louisiana hopefuls figuring into that mix.

Democrat James “Buddy” Caldwell, attorney general for the three northeastern Louisiana parishes since 1978, will be one of two challengers to be the state’s top prosecutor.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

Caldwell, 61, is challenging incumbent Charles Foti, elected in 2003 after serving as Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff for 30 years. Republican Royal Alexander of Shreveport, a former congressional staffer, is also in the race.

In the governor’s race, District 5 Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, D-Elm Grove, is one of 13 names appearing on the primary ballot. Campbell has held the PSC post representing north Louisiana since 2002 and spent 27 years in the state senate representing Bossier Parish-based District 36.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, who lost the gubernatorial runoff to Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2003, is the foremost Republican in the race. Other candidates on the ballot are state Sen. Walter Boasso, D-Arabi, suburban New Orleans businessman John Georges, activist M.V. “Vinny” Mendoza of Kenner, Arthur “Jim” Nichols of Donaldsonville, Belinda Alexandrenko of Lafayette, Vincent Mark Castillo of St. Rose, Sheldon Forest of Lafayette, Anthony Gentile of Mandeville, T. Lee Horne III of Franklin, Hardy Parkerson of Lake Charles and Mary Volentine Smith of Winnsboro.

Mendoza, Parkerson and Smith are Democrats. Georges, Nichols, Castillo and Forest did not claim party affiliations. Horne is a Libertarian. Alexandrenko said she has founded the Hope for America party.

For agriculture and forestry commissioner, Republican Don Johnson, a farmer from the tiny East Carroll Parish town of Transylvania, is one of three GOP challengers facing seven-term incumbent Bob Odom. Also in the race are state Rep. Mike Strain, R-Covington, and Baton Rouge economic council member Wayne Carter.

Other statewide races include lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, D-New Orleans, faces three challengers, including country singer Sammy Kershaw who qualified as a Republican, as did state Rep. Gary Beard, R-Baton Rouge. Norris “Spanky” Gros of Pierre Part and Thomas Kates of Bogulusa claimed no affiliation.

Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat Rick Wooley of Baton Rouge and Scott Lewis, who claimed no party.

For commissioner of insurance, incumbent Jim Donelon, R-Metairie, is opposed by fellow Republicans Robert Landsden and Jerilyn Schnneider-Kneale.

In the legislature, one term-limited political veteran is running to take the place of another barred by state law from seeking four more years.

Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, is running to replace Sen. Charles Jones of Monroe in Senate District 34. Thompson has first elected to the House in 1974, representing western portions of the three parishes and parts of West Carroll and Richland parishes. Also running are Madison Parish District 4 Police Juror Paxton J. Branch and Willie Hunter, both Democrats. The district covers all three northeastern parishes and a portion of Ouachita Parish, including most of Monroe.

For Thompson’s seat in House District 19, lawyer Anita Tennant-Mack is running against Charles R. “Bubba” Chaney. Both are Democrats.

In House District 21, which straddles the Mississippi River in each parish and extends south to Concordia Parish, incumbent Andy Anders faces C. Travis Johnson, Richard Madison and Moses Williams. All are Democrats.

On the local level, Madison Parish will elect a new clerk of court and two new members of its Police Jury.

Six are running for the clerk seat — Democrats Marion Hopkins, Mike Rome, Margaret Ann Whitney and Ernest Wilmore Jr. will be joined by Marie E. Ernst and Patricia “Tina” Thompson, both claiming no party affiliation.

The winner will succeed longtime incumbent Carolyn Caldwell, who faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on a count of mail fraud after a 2006 indictment on charges she paid for personal trips with public money.

For District 2 police juror, incumbent Richard Skipper, a Republican, faces Stanley Ogden, who claimed no party. In District 3, Police Jury President Thomas J. Williams is opposed by Tammy D. Neal and Henry Tyler, both Democrats, and Priscilla Mahoney, who claimed no affiliation. The open District 5 seat, vacated by Danny Guice, is contested by Ronnie Charles Groves and Jane Sanders, both Democrats.

On the school board, District 1 member Olga M. Daily is opposed by Republicans Larry E. McGaha and Ed Yerger and Joe Florice, who claimed no party.

Sheriff Larry Cox and Assessor Jim Sevier face opponents in Chad Johnson and Charles Johnson, respectively.

Re-elected without opposition were Coroner Thomas Neumann, District 2 School Board Member Randy J. Morgan and District 1 Police Juror Robert Fortenberry.

East Carroll voters will elect a new clerk of court after 56 years, as Louisiana’s longest-serving clerk Edna Brock is retiring.

Candidates to replace her are Democrats Beatrice Allen Carter and Charlotte B. Herrington and Willie Ann Turner Washington, who claimed no party.

Other contested races include two open seats for police jury and for the District 5 seat on the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In District 1, Joe Davis, Truett Dunn and Derrick J. Nunley will face off. In District 4, Billy Coleman and Kendall Thompson are the candidates.

Incumbent District 2 Police Juror John Shoemaker faces Donnie Meadows, Bobby Moore and Stanley Ray Pitts. Incumbent District 5 Police Juror Roger Odell Clement faces Eugene Styron. District 3 Police Juror Joseph Jackson is unopposed.

For the BESE seat, Democrats Walter Gatlin, Keith Guice and James E. Lee and Republican Ruth Ulrich have qualified to run. It is being vacated by incumbent James Stafford.

For sheriff, incumbent Mark Shumate faces Billy Travis. Assessor Geneva Odom and Coroner Jim Holt are unopposed. All candidates for parish races in East Carroll are Democrats.

In Tensas Parish, four of its seven police jurors face opposition. In District 1, incumbent Emmett Adams Jr., a Republican, faces Democrat Patrick Glass. In District 2, Danny Clark faces Robert South. In District 5, incumbent Ed Turner faces Rod Webb. All four are Democrats.

In District 6, Republican incumbent Keith Smith faces Democrat Carl Frank Olds.

Sheriff Rickey Jones faces Bobby D. Higginbotham for another term. Clerk of Court Ernest Sikes faces Wanda Bowman. For assessor, incumbent Irby S. Gamble faces Kimberly Smith. For coroner, Sylvia Egloff Ali, who claimed no party, faces Republican Keith Butler.

Information for Louisiana voters:

* Polls will be open 6 a.m-8 p.m. Oct. 20.

* Results will be available at

* The deadline to request a mail ballot is Oct. 16, except for military members or those living overseas.

* The deadline for the registrar to receive a mail ballot is Oct. 19, except for military members or those living overseas.

* Early voting is Oct. 6-Oct. 13.