WASHINGTON — State Sen. Rick Ward III said Thursday he is running for Congress in 2014.
He switched to the Republican Party two weeks ago and his intentions have been rumored since.
Ward, R-Maringouin, said he filed his candidacy papers with the Federal Election Commission to run for the 6th Congressional District that is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, who is aiming for the Senate.
Ward, 31, said there is a need in Louisiana for a young conservative, who is not a Washington insider, to help the nation’s capital move in a better direction.
Although Ward said he expects opponents to question his conservativism because he was a Democrat until recently, Ward said he had consistently voted conservative during his term in the state Legislature.
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.
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.
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 because of redistricting. 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 won’t even 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-based software company Anedot, which focuses on helping charities and political candidates streamline receiving donations online.
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, who is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer; Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck; and even former Rep. Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia.