All eyes in Louisiana are turned towards the run-off for the next secretary of state in a week, a race in which a little-known Black woman is up against the interim secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin, a Republican.
Gwen Collins-Greenup surprised many in the state’s political elite during the midterm elections, when she forced a run-off in the race to become the state’s next secretary of state (the state’s third highest position).
If Collins-Greenup wins the run-off set for Dec. 8, she would be the first African-American woman to be elected to statewide office in Louisiana.
“I guess it was a surprise to most people in the political sphere, it wasn’t a surprise to me,” said Collins-Greenup told local affiliate KLFY-10.
In the November election, she beat out seven other candidates with only a few thousand dollars in her campaign books and little support from the state’s democratic party.
She was often not invited to participate in some candidates’ forums for the race because her fundraising was seen as lackluster. And according to The Advocate, a local TV station even asked her to call in when news of her feat was announced because they did not have her phone number.
But Collins-Greenup explained that she is still in the race because she traveled throughout the state talking to voters one-on-one.
“If I was just jogging or something, I’d stopped to talk with them,” she told the Advocate.
The former assistant to a local school superintendent, Collins-Green graduated from Southern University Law Center and has a graduate degree from Liberty University Theological Seminary, according to her website. She has previously worked as a licensed notary, a legal secretary with the Louisiana Department of Labor, a deputy clerk with the East Feliciana Parish Clerk of Court and in the Baton Rouge City Court, according to her website.
She is also married with two sons in college.
If she wins, she’ll enter an office previously held by Tom Schedler, who resigned back in May over sexual harassment allegations.
“If the leadership has a culture of sexual harassment, it will continue. But I will not have a culture of sexual harassment, because I won’t tolerate that,” she said.