Ward drops run for Congress

Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- Sen. Rick Ward III, D-Maringouin, speaks on April 17 during the Senate Health & Welfare Committee meeting  at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.
Advocate file photo by ADAM LAU -- Sen. Rick Ward III, D-Maringouin, speaks on April 17 during the Senate Health & Welfare Committee meeting at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge.

State Sen. Rick Ward III is backing out of his 2014 congressional run less than a month after announcing his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

Citing family reasons and his young children, Ward, R-Maringouin, opted out of the race for the 6th District seat that is being vacated because Cassidy is running for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.

“It boiled down to time with my kids,” said Ward, 31. “As I got into it, and I was looking at all it would entail … I couldn’t stomach leaving my kids for that long each week.”

His three children are ages 6, 4 and 22 months. Ward said he initially thought he would be able to manage the travel back and forth to Washington, but that he reconsidered as the process progressed.

He said he is happy to continue serving in his state Senate seat.

Last month, Ward switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party prior to filing his paperwork to run for Congress.

Ward, a lawyer, had said he expected opponents to question his conservative credentials because of his party switch, but he argued he had consistently voted conservative during his term in the state Legislature.

Ward is the son of prominent Democrat Ricky Ward, the district attorney for the 18th Judicial District of Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes.

Ward was elected to the 17th District in October 2011 with 25,645 votes or 70 percent of the total cast. Thirty-five percent of the 77,767 registered voters in his state Senate district are black and 21 percent are registered Republicans, according to the secretary of state.

Cassidy’s recently redrawn 6th District lost some of north Baton Rouge and chunks of West Baton Rouge, Ascension and St. James parishes. But the district now moves farther south to snatch up parts of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. The 6th District, with 358,555 registered voters, is 74 percent white and 33 percent Republican, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

While there are few announced candidates for the congressional race thus far, a crowded field is expected.

And Ward wasn’t even going to be the youngest Republican in the race.

In May, Baton Rouge business owner Paul Dietzel II, 27, who is the grandson of former LSU football coach Paul Dietzel, became the first Republican to formally declare for the race. Dietzel is the founder and CEO of Baton Rouge software company Anedot, which focuses on helping charities and political candidates streamline receiving donations online.

Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck, a Republican who was first elected without opposition last year, also announced his intentions to run for the seat earlier this month.

The only other formally declared candidate is Democratic real estate broker Richard Dean Lieberman, of LaPlace.

But several other state legislators are considering running, and other potential candidates include state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer and even former U. S. Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia.