Six run for 5th congressional seat

WASHINGTON — Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo on Tuesday became the third Democrat to formally qualify for the 5th District congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman.

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Clyde Holloway, a Republican from Forest Hill and a former U.S. congressman, plans to qualify for the race Wednesday afternoon after the regulatory board meets, said Karen Haymon, his chief aide. He was the U.S. House member from Louisiana’s 8th district from 1987 to 1993.

The seat was abolished through reapportionment.

Five candidates have qualified to run in the Oct. 19 open primary special election. Qualifying ends at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Others who have filed registration paperwork for the race include: state Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia; and Phillip “Blake” Weatherly, a Republican and political newcomer from Calhoun. Democratic state Reps. Marcus Hunter, of Monroe, and Robert Johnson, of Marksville; and Henry Herford Jr., a Libertarian from Delhi; also have qualified.

Mayo said he looks forward to meeting most of the constituency in the large district and touting the successes and financial surpluses that he has helped lead in Monroe in his 12 years in office.

Mayo said, “I feel I’ll be able to separate myself from the pack with my experience as mayor and in the city council, because that’s where the rubber meets the road.”

He described himself as a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, moderate Democrat.

“When someone says they’re conservative and that’s all they say, I have concerns about that because we have to represent all the people in the district,” Mayo said.

Other contenders who could still join the race before Wednesday afternoon are state Rep. Jay Morris, R-Monroe, and Republican Monroe lawyer Jeff Guerriero.

Morris did not respond to phone messages Monday and Tuesday, but his legislative aide said he plans to qualify Wednesday.

Guerriero said Tuesday he is nearly “100 percent going in” but he is still meeting with supporters before making a final decision Wednesday.

“I just want to make sure if I qualify I have a chance to win,” said Guerriero, who narrowly lost a state Senate race two years ago to state Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe.

Ouachita Parish School Superintendent Bob Webber said Tuesday that he decided against qualifying as a Republican in order to maintain his commitment to the school district.

But Webber said he “absolutely” will consider running when his contract is up at the end of next year.

Of the candidates, Morris has been particularly critical of the alleged coordination of Alexander and Gov. Bobby Jindal to attempt to coronate Riser as Alexander’s successor.

Alexander was first elected as a Democrat in 2002 and reelected in 2004 and since as Republican.

A couple of weeks ago, Alexander announced he would not seek re-election in 2014, and the next day took a job in Jindal’s administration as secretary of the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Riser almost immediately announced his plans to run, quickly launched a website and began sending out campaign mailers. He also received rapid endorsements from three of the five GOP members from Louisiana in the U.S. House: Reps. Charles Boustany, of Lafayette; John Fleming, of Minden; and Steve Scalise, of Jefferson.

Riser said he had planned for a while to run for the seat whenever Alexander decided to step down.

The 5th District is one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation. It covers all or part of 24 parishes across northeast Louisiana, through much of central Louisiana, across the northern Baton Rouge metro area — though not East Baton Rouge Parish itself — along the state line with Mississippi through the Florida Parishes to Washington Parish at the toe of the boot.

The secretary of state reported 461,109 registered voters in the district, 309,422 of whom are white and 132,156 are registered as Republicans.

Mark Ballard of the Capitol news bureau contributed to this report.