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Secretary of State Race Heats Up, Trims Down

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  The race for secretary of state didn't take long to heat up last week, just as the field of candidates also got smaller. As expected, House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Terrytown, announced he will run against interim Secretary of State Tom Schedler, R-St. Tammany.

  Schedler assumed the office last December when Jay Dardenne won the lieutenant governor's job. Schedler was Dardenne's first assistant and has since announced his intention of running for the job. Schedler previously served in the state Senate.

  As soon as Tucker announced for the post, Schedler fired off the first of what promises to be many volleys, swiping at Tucker for supporting the controversial 2008 legislative pay raise. "This latest move by Representative Tucker will be his plan for getting the pay raise he always wanted," Schedler said in a press release. "As the architect of the legislative pay raise fiasco, Speaker Tucker tried to double his salary. Thankfully, the people of Louisiana and Gov. (Bobby) Jindal saw it differently."

  Tucker called the pay raise a "red herring" and noted that he promised to donate his raise to charity had it become law. Jindal vetoed the measure. Tucker added that lawmakers made a "mistake" in 2008 when they made the raise effective immediately rather than in the following term — which a constitutional amendment now requires.

  Meanwhile, another GOP candidate for that office has announced he's getting out of politics — for now. State Rep. Walker Hines, R-New Orleans, previously announced his candidacy for secretary of state, but last week he said he will not seek any public office this fall.

  "At some point in the future, I plan on returning to public service to offer myself to Louisiana voters as a major office candidate," Hines said in an email, later adding, "I look forward to the day when I am again able to serve the people of our State."

  So far, the secretary of state's race is an all-GOP affair, but that could change soon. Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans attorney who ran a credible race for lieutenant governor last year, is widely considered a likely entry. If she runs, she is expected to be the top spender, based on her family's wealth and the dough she dropped in the lieutenant governor's race last year.

  Also considered a potential candidate is Natural Resources Secretary Scott Angelle, a top adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal and a recent GOP convert. Angelle would be the only non-New Orleans area candidate in the race if he runs, but he reportedly is having second thoughts about the campaign.

  Qualifying for all state and local offices on the Oct. 22 ballot is Sept. 6-8. — DuBos

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