Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin won’t seek re-election

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 8:24 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WVUE) - Louisiana’s top elections official -- Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin -- announced Tuesday (April 11) that he will not seek re-election in the fall.

Ardoin said in a statement that his five years in office were marked by “unprecedented challenges,” including major hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic, “and lies about our election processes and procedures.”

Ardoin was appointed to complete the term of Tom Schedler, who resigned from the position in 2018. Ardoin then was elected to a full four-year term later that fall.

Dillard University political analyst and professor Dr. Robert Collins said Ardoin’s surprising decision leaves potential replacements little time to act.

“Certainly, this is going to be a challenge to any candidates who are interested in the job, because now there’s only a short period of time between now and qualifying,” Collins said. “And it’s difficult to raise money in the current environment.”

Ardoin’s decision opens another major vacancy in state government to be filled in the fall elections. Gov. John Bel Edwards is term-limited and cannot run again. And less than a month ago, longtime Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon announced that he also would not seek another term in office.

“It is considered a plum job in Louisiana politics,” Collins said of Ardoin’s role. “But I would expect most of the people that are going to get in the race are going to be people that already have a political base, already have a campaign war chest.”

Ardoin, a Republican, made some pointed remarks in his statement regarding election fraud conspiracy theories that have promulgated since the 2016 presidential election.

“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,” Ardoin 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.”

Collins said even though Louisiana is not a swing state for presidential elections, some people have engaged in conspiracy theories regarding the election process.

“Even in a state like Louisiana, there are conspiracy theories running around, saying our elections could be rigged, our voting machines could be hacked by external forces and elections could be rigged,” Collins said. “Again, it’s not true, but there are people in Louisiana that make those accusations.”

Ardoin made headlines recently by entering into a legal settlement with leaders of a recall petition drive against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, an agreement that reduced the number of valid signatures needed to force a recall election.

“The secretary of state took a controversial position in the recall drive by entering into an agreement and settling on a number that the recall petition organizers were going to have to get to trigger an election,” Collins said. “And so, because of that, he sort of interjected himself in local politics. So there’s some controversy around that.”

Ardoin declined interview requests on Tuesday.

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