House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator).
Louisiana House Speaker Clay Schexnayder announced Wednesday that he will run for secretary of state, an office that has become increasingly partisan in how it manages elections.
Schexnayder, a Republican from Gonzales, is term-limited from holding his House seat. He said he would uphold and build upon Louisiana’s secure voting system, which has been the subject of attack by election conspiracy theorists. His announcement comes a day after Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said he won’t seek re-election this fall.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Louisiana. As my time in the House is coming to an end, I feel a call to continue in public service,” he said. “As Speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Secretary Ardoin and his staff. He is leaving behind one of the most secure and respected election divisions in the country. I want to build on that success until Louisiana elections are ranked number one in the nation.”
Schexnayder will contend with at least two other Republicans that have entered the race: Gonzales grocery store owner Brandon Trosclair and Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis of Crowley.
Francis, who has held the PSC office since 2016, unsuccessfully ran for secretary of state in a special election in 2006.
Trosclair has never held public office but sued the federal government during the coronavirus pandemic over the employee vaccine mandate. He has also embraced unfounded election conspiracy theories and told the Gonzales Weekly Citizen that he would replace voting machines with paper ballots.
Another potential candidate for the race is Central Republican Rep. Barry Ivey, who is an occasional independent voice within his party. Having previously decided against running, Ivey said Ardoin’s announcement prompted him to reconsider his options.
“I am re-entertaining the idea,” Ivey said on Tuesday. “It is a completely different landscape now.”
Ardoin faced immense political pressure, particularly from his own party, during and after the 2020 election to the point of crying during public meetings. He took a tougher stance against election deniers in his written statement Tuesday.
“I hope that Louisianans of all political persuasions will stand against the pervasive lies that have eroded trust in our elections by using conspiracies so far-fetched that they belong in a work of fiction,” he said. “The vast majority of Louisiana’s voters know that our elections are secure and accurate, and it is shameful and outright dangerous that a small minority of vocal individuals have chosen to denigrate the hard work of our election staff and spread unproven falsehoods.”
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