BESE president mulls U.S. Senate race

Chas Roemer, the president of Louisiana’s top school board, said Monday that he is considering running for the U.S. Senate next year.

“I am thinking about different options on what I want to do,” Roemer said. “That is certainly in the discussion but I haven’t made a decision.”

Roemer, a Baton Rouge Republican, won a second term in 2011 to the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which sets policies for 712,000 public school students statewide.

He is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, who also served in the U. S. Congress.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has vowed to run an aggressive campaign for re-election in 2014.

Landrieu has been described as politically vulnerable in past elections but has repeatedly fended off Republican challengers.

She won a third term in 2008 by defeating Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy and three others.

Possible challengers next year include Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and John Fleming, R-Minden.

Roemer, who is the father of children ages 10 and 12, said he thinks it would be easier serving in the Senate with young children than the House, which he considered once before and whose members face re-election every two years.

U.S. senators are elected for six-year terms.

Roemer, 43, said he entered politics because he thought education was the most critical issue and that it may still be.

But, he added, “I am now more concerned than I was then about national issues.”

Roemer won a second, four-year term on BESE in 2011 when he easily defeated Democrat Donald Songy, former superintendent of the Ascension Parish school system.

He was elected president of the 11-member BESE panel last month and, last week, launched what he said will be a yearlong, statewide series of visits to public schools with other state school board members.

Roemer, a businessman, is a proponent of letter grades for public schools, tougher evaluations for public school teachers and expanded school options for students and parents.

He is an ally of Gov. Bobby Jindal, who endorsed his re-election bid.

Roemer’s District 6 BESE seat includes much of East Baton Rouge and Ascension parishes as well as Livingston, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.

In 2008, Landrieu was re-elected with 52 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Kennedy.

Her winning margin — nearly 120,00 votes — was the largest of her three Senate victories.

Landrieu won by about 42,000 votes out of 1.2 million votes cast in 2002.

In 1996, Landrieu claimed victory by less than 6,000 votes.

Landrieu said on Jan. 31 that she raised more than $1 million in campaign funds during the last three months of 2012 and had a $2.53 million war chest at the end of December.

She had about $1 million at this point in her last re-election cycle.