The races for secretary of state and treasurer are headed to the Nov. 18 runoff after no candidate was able to win a majority of the vote in Saturday’s primary.
Both seats are open after the incumbent Republicans decided not to run for reelection.
Republican Nancy Landry, top lieutenant to the current secretary of state, and Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democratic attorney who has made two previous runoffs for the seat, each secured 19% of the vote, enough to head to a runoff after a close race. Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis trailed behind them by a percentage point.
Republican John Fleming, a former House Freedom Caucus member and Trump administration official, and Democratic financial advisor Dustin Granger, advanced to the runoff in the treasurer’s race. Fleming had a strong lead over his two challengers, with about 44% of the vote.
Republicans are expected to sweep the statewide races, barring a surprisingly strong showing from a Democrat, given the state’s increasingly conservative voting patterns. Republicans hold every statewide office besides governor; Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards won two surprise terms but is term-limited.
Louisiana’s unusual “jungle primary” pits all candidates, regardless of party, against one another in the October election. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters advance to a runoff. The runoff this year is on Nov. 18.
SECRETARY OF STATE
The race for Secretary of State, normally a staid affair centering on the bureaucratic duties of the job, became a political minefield this year after former President Donald Trump’s loss in 2020 ushered in a wave of conspiracy theories about election security.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said he was not running for reelection earlier this year in a statement where he slammed “pervasive lies” about election integrity. Ardoin had at times courted conservative groups who questioned election security even as he promoted Louisiana’s system as solid.
The mainstream Republicans in the race have largely steered clear of claims that elections are compromised. But in their campaigns, they have vowed to keep state elections secure. One of the candidates, Republican grocery store owner Brandon Trosclair, has claimed Louisiana’s elections are compromised; experts and state auditors who have evaluated the systems say there is no real potential for widespread fraud.
Clay Schexnayder entered the campaign after an acrimonious end to his term as Louisiana House Speaker, in which conservative Republicans trashed him in the media following a controversial end to the regular legislative session. GOP megadonors Lane Grigsby and Eddie Rispone lined up behind Nancy Landry, the first assistant secretary of state, through a Super PAC that tagged Schexnayder as “Shady Clay.”
Former Orleans Parish Chief Elections Officer Arthur Morrell’s entrance was a late surprise, and he and attorney Gwen Collins-Greenup were the race’s only two Democrats. Collins-Greenup unexpectedly made the runoff against Ardoin in 2018 and 2019 but lost both times. Both struggled to raise serious money in the primary.
The treasurer’s race had only three candidates: state Rep. Scott McKnight, R-Baton Rouge, former Trump administration official and U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Dustin Granger, a Democratic financial advisor from Lake Charles.
The seat became open when outgoing Treasurer John Schroder, a Republican, ran for governor.
McKnight won Schroder’s endorsement recently, providing a boost to his campaign after the Louisiana Republican Party backed Fleming.
Fleming is considered the more hardcore conservative in the race, having co-founded the House Freedom Caucus while in Congress. McKnight, an insurance executive, has praised Schroder’s handling of the office; Schroder has largely made his name railing against environmental, social and governance policies, investment decisions that take climate change and other considerations into account.
The state Treasurer has a mostly ministerial job. The officeholder must invest state funds, chair the Bond Commission and oversee unclaimed property. The treasurer also sits on the boards overseeing state pension systems.
It has historically been a springboard to higher office. Mary Landrieu served as treasurer before running for the U.S. Senate. John Kennedy was treasurer for 17 years before winning a U.S. Senate race after two failed attempts. Schroder sought the governorship but failed to gain traction in polls or fundraising.
Fleming lost a bid for Senate in 2016, the race Kennedy won.