Qualifying to fill congressional seat set to begin Aug. 19

Candidate qualifying for the 5th Congressional District to replace U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, will last from Aug. 19 to Aug. 21.

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Thursday formally set the dates for candidate sign-up and the Oct. 19 open primary special election that would have a Nov. 16 general election runoff if no one wins outright.

Alexander opted not to run for re-election in 2014 and then accepted a position to serve in Jindal’s Cabinet overseeing the state Department of Veterans Affairs.

State Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, and state Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, have already announced their intentions to run for the 5th Congressional District. The district — the largest geographically in the state — stretches from northeastern Louisiana to St. Landry Parish to parts of the Baton Rouge metro area and Washington Parish.

Riser has already picked up endorsements from U.S. Reps. John Fleming, R-Minden, and Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette. Riser, a funeral home owner, indicated he had always planned to run for the post once Alexander decided to step down.

“As a business leader from northeast Louisiana, as well as dynamic legislative leader in Baton Rouge, Neil has proven he is focused on working hard to get results for the people of Louisiana,” Boustany stated in his announcement.

Another potential GOP contender is Alexander’s chief of staff, Adam Terry, of Harrisonburg.

Other possible Democratic contenders include Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy and state Sen. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, among others.

Alexander, 66, cited partisan gridlock in Congress as a key reason for stepping down. But he also has not ruled out again running for office in the future, including for governor in 2015.