Democratic Party gives late endorsement in treasurer's race
By MELINDA DESLATTE
Oct. 28, 2017
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Months after one Democratic candidate signed up to run for state treasurer, Louisiana's Democratic Party agreed Saturday to endorse and support him with only three weeks remaining in the campaign.
The party's governing body, the Democratic State Central Committee, unanimously voted to back Derrick Edwards in the Nov. 18 runoff election. Edwards, who is paralyzed from the neck down by a high school football injury, appeared at the union hall where he won party support.
"I definitely am proud to be a Democrat. I'm proud to represent the party. And I'm proud to represent the people of this great state," he said.
A New Orleans area lawyer with an accounting degree, Edwards faces Republican former Rep. John Schroder, of St. Tammany Parish, on the runoff ballot.
Though Edwards was the top vote-getter in the primary election, Schroder is considered the front-runner in the competition after Republicans in the six-candidate primary split 67 percent of the primary vote.
Edwards has never held elected office, has lagged significantly in fundraising, and his campaign didn't generate enthusiasm from party leaders. Republican statewide elected officials and party leaders, meanwhile, have lined up in support of Schroder's candidacy since the GOP field has been whittled to one contender.
Edwards asked his party's governing body for not only the endorsement, but also for "support financially so I can put my campaign in motion."
However, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, chair of the state Democratic Party, said the party won't steer money to Edwards' campaign. Instead, she said the party would offer a "support system" for his candidacy, helping to identify regular donors to Democratic candidates, offering staff to do phone banks and voter outreach and publicizing in Louisiana's communities that the Democratic Party is backing Edwards in the race.
"With the power of the people, we will help him cross the finish line," Peterson said.
The special election will fill the remaining two years of Republican John Kennedy's term. Kennedy held the seat as Louisiana's chief money manager and investment officer for 17 years, leaving after his election to the U.S. Senate. Kennedy's top aide, Ron Henson, is working as interim treasurer until someone is elected. Henson has backed Schroder.