Louisiana Secretary of State Candidate Could Make History for Black Women

Running a grassroots campaign with little help from the Democratic Party, Gwen Collins-Greenup could make history as the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office in Louisiana. She would become Louisiana’s first female Secretary of State since 1932, and the second ever in the state’s history.

A runoff for Secretary of State is set for Saturday. Collins-Greenup’s opponent, Republican candidate Kyle Ardoin, currently serves as the interim Secretary of State. The special election is to fill out the remaining year of Tom Schedler’s term. He resigned in May over sexual harassment allegations.

Collins-Greenup is a 39-year-old minister, small business owner, wife, mother and lifelong resident of Louisiana, currently residing in Clinton. She earned a master of divinity degree as well as a law degree.

In November, Collins-Greenup beat out seven other candidates with a campaign budget of less than $3,000 ahead of the primary election.

“Spending roughly a half-cent for each vote received, the Democrat got 289,097 votes to Ardoin’s 298,657 votes. He spent about 83 cents per vote received,” according to The Advocate.

Collins-Greenup, with small-dollar contributions, ran her campaign without TV ads, forum invites or appearances, rather, she went on church visits. She didn’t have campaign support from the Louisiana Democratic party until after the November primary. Her party originally endorsed Renee Fontenot Free in the race.

But Collins-Greenup welcomed the party’s support.

“It’s such a privilege to receive an endorsement from the Louisiana Democratic Party executive committee,” she said in a statement in mid-November. “We have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time, but I’m confident that the tireless work we’ve done in the primary will carry over into the runoff.”

If elected, Collins-Greenup would serve as the chief election officer.

“As important as the Secretary of State position is, the races often fly under the radar until now,” according to the NAACP.

This sole distinction as the main overseer of elections caused the NAACP to call out Brian Kemp’s run for Governor of Georgia, while still maintaining his role as Secretary of State, as a conflict of interest. There were multiple accounts of voter suppression coming out of the state up until Election Day.

Collins-Greenup said her number one priority would be to increase voter participation.

“By engaging schools and communities organizations and having that voter education and outreach,” she told KLFY.

“My second priority will be the implementation of Act 636, which allows people who are formally incarcerated, and on probation and parole to vote.”

She also said she’d get new voting machines across the state.

“That will have a voter verified paper trail, that prints out and gives people peace of mind, that the vote they casted is the one that is counted,” Collins-Greenup said.

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