Democratic caucus leader says he’s running for governor

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Democratic leader in the Louisiana House, Rep. John Bel Edwards, said he’s running for governor in 2015.

Edwards, a lawyer from Tangipahoa Parish, became the first Democrat to say he’ll be a candidate in the race, announcing his plans Wednesday on a Baton Rouge-based radio show hosted by Jim Engster.

The lawmaker said he hadn’t intended to unveil his candidacy on the show but didn’t want to dodge the question when asked.

“I’m letting people know now that I do plan to run,” Edwards said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m not in a position where I can write a check and self-finance, so obviously this is going to be a long effort for me.”

Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Edwards has been a lawmaker since 2008 and has become one of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s most vocal critics, on issues including the budget, taxes and education.

He was among the leaders of unsuccessful opposition efforts last year to Jindal’s statewide voucher program and other sweeping education changes that siphon dollars away from traditional public schools.

Jindal is unable to run for a third consecutive term, leaving a vacant seat that has drawn much speculation about the field of contenders.

Many Republicans have been mentioned as possible candidates, including U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Treasurer John Kennedy, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and state Sen. Gerald Long.

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