Candidates for state treasurer have different plans for Louisiana’s money. Oil and gas are part of it

Louisiana residents will head to the polls in just four days to vote in a number of statewide and local races, including the race for state treasurer — a race between candidates from two opposing parties that will affect how Louisiana manages and invests its money.

Republican John Fleming, a former U.S. Rep., and Democrat Dustin Granger, a financial adviser from Lake Charles, advanced to the general election runoff after receiving the highest percentages of the vote in the October primary.

Of all the positions in state government, the treasurer has the greatest oversight of state finances.

“They are basically the No. 1 CFO in our state,” said Eugene Lee Johnson, a political science professor at Southern University.

The Treasurer is responsible for managing and investing billions of dollars of public money. The Treasurer also serves on the State Bonds Commission and manages state debt. The candidates’ views on how to manage the state’s financial assets are as varied as their political views.

Democrat Dustin Granger

Granger, a Democrat, wants to steer Louisiana away from investing in oil and gas. He said he instead wants to focus on investing in renewable energies and companies with environmental, social and governance policies — also known as ESG — something many conservative Louisiana politicians oppose.

“I think we need to invest our money where the best opportunities are,” Granger said in an interview with Louisiana Conceded, adding that many companies with ESG policies offer a good return on investment.

Granger said if elected, one of his top priorities as treasurer will be to help address the state’s ongoing insurance crisis. About a dozen insurance companies have pulled out of Louisiana since 2020 and homeowners insurance rates have skyrocketed. He said the state needs what he calls “real insurance reform,” and that he could use his position as treasurer to help fund new state programs — such as the reinsurance program — that could help lower insurance costs for Louisiana residents.

In the October primary, Granger received the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat running for statewide office. But with just 32%, he still faces an uphill battle to win the seat. His Republican rival, John Fleming, received 44% of the primary votes. A third candidate, also a Republican, received another 24%.

Republican John Fleming

Fleming, who represented Louisiana’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2009 to 2017, was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative House Republicans. He was also appointed by President Donald Trump to serve in several roles, including Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.

Before running for Congress, Fleming said he created a series of companies that still employ about 350 Louisiana residents. He said his experience, combined with his work in Congress, prepared him for the role of treasurer.

“Every month, I get paid a lot of money,” he told Louisiana Conceded. “This is very important in developing your understanding of the economy, and how government can help and hurt the economy and small business owners.”

Fleming said he believes the state treasurer’s most important role is to protect the state’s taxpayer money through safe and smart investing.

“If money sits in an account without anything happening to it, it loses between 3 and 10 percent of its value each year depending on the inflation rate,” he said. “So it’s important to have forward movement with money and bank accounts.”

If elected, he said, he would work with the governor and Legislature to look for ways to “move our state forward economically.”

Fleming said in August when he qualified to run for the position that he had concerns about investing in companies with environmental, social and governance policies.

He said Louisiana considers that he is not directly opposed to investing in renewable energy. Instead, he said he believes the state needs to invest its money “wisely” to make sure it gets the best return on investment, suggesting that prioritizing renewable energy outcomes could be a purely political move.

The general elections will be held on Saturday, November 18.

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