Mike Strain

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Michael Gene "Mike" Strain


Louisiana Commissioner of
Agriculture and Forestry
Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 14, 2008
Preceded by Bob Odom

Louisiana State Representative
for District 74
In office
2000 – January 2008
Preceded by Bill Strain
Succeeded by Scott Simon

Born December 2, 1958
Covington, St, Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Searcy Strain
Alma mater Covington High School

Louisiana State University
LSU School of Veterinary Medicine (both in Baton Rouge)

Religion Roman Catholic

Michael Gene Strain, known as Mike Strain (born December 2, 1958), is the first Republican ever elected to the position of Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry commissioner.

A former state representative from Covington in suburban St. Tammany Parish near New Orleans, Strain assumed his position with his state's other constitutional officers on January 14, 2008.

Background

A veterinarian and rancher, Strain was born in Covington to Charles "Butch" Strain, Jr., and Carol Strain of Abita Springs, a small town in St. Tammany Parish. He graduated in 1976 from Covington High School. In 1983, he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He and his veterinarian wife, Dr. Susan Searcy Strain (born January 31, 1958), a native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, operate Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital in Covington. The Strains have two children, Melissa and Michael. They attend St. Jane's d'Chantal Roman Catholic Church in Abita Springs.[1]

A cousin of St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Rodney "Jack" Strain, Jr., Strain is a former member of the Sheriff’s Office Reserves and a former commissioner for the St. Tammany Parish Fire District. He was chosen by the Centers for Disease Control as one of three Louisiana veterinarians to have been instructed in awareness of bioterrorism. Dr. Strain is a past president and board member for the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation]and is affiliated with the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association.[2]

State representative

In 1999, Strain was elected to the Louisiana House for District 74, a conservative constituency located in St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. In 2000, he succeeded a cousin, R. H. "Bill" Strain, a veteran Democrat lawmaker. Strain was re-elected without opposition in 2003.[3]

In the legislature, Strain chaired the Rural Caucus for two terms and was named '"Legislator of the Year" by the St. Tammany Parish Alliance for Good Government.

Campaign critics

In the campaign, some conservatives questioned Strain's legislative votes for higher taxes, including his support for the Stelly Plan (named for former State Representative Vic Stelly of Lake Charles. Nevertheless, Strain carried the support of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum, headed by the Reverend Gene Mills, which honored him in 2007 as one of twenty-three lawmakers designated as an "Outstanding Family Advocate."[4]

Agriculture commissioner

Campaign

Early in 2007, Strain entered the race for agriculture commissioner in opposition to the 28-year Democratic incumbent, Robert Fulton "Bob" Odom, Jr., who in his last years in office had been engulfed in multiple personal corruption allegations.

Numerous newspapers endorsed Strain's candidacy, including The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Shreveport Times, the Monroe News Star in Monroe (the seat of Ouachita Parish in northeast Louisiana) and The Alexandria Town Talk, published three days a week in Alexandria (the seat of Rapides Parish in central Louisiana). In declaring its support for Strain, The Times-Picayune said that the department is "badly in need of change. The department in recent years has run amok, particularly as it embarked on an ill-conceived and wasteful building campaign. Taxpayers are now carrying a $56 million debt risk for a syrup mill that's not meeting production projections. Yet the department sought to build a separate $135 million mill last year until public pressure helped kill the project . . . "

Strain also received the endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party and the support of Republican then U.S. Senator David Vitter, who urged voters to elect Strain in order to "move beyond our past of cronyism and corruption."[5]

Election returns

In the October 20 nonpartisan primary, Odom led Strain, 505,466 (41 percent) to 494,726 (40 percent). Two other candidates, Republicans Wayne Carter, a conservative member of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro council from Odom's own Zachary, and Don Johnson, a farmer from Transylvania in the heavily Democratic East Carroll Parish, trailed with 152,872 (13 percent) and 69,469 (6 percent), respectively. The total Republican vote hence totaled 59 percent. Johnson had also run against Odom in 1987, 1991, 1995, and 2003.[6]

Less than a week later, Odom announced that he would not contest the general election. Therefore, Strain was declared the winner of the election.[7]

Strain won a second term as agriculture commissioner in the primary held on October 22, 2011. With 640,631 votes (66.5 percent), he defeated two politically unknown opponents, Democrat Jamie LaBranche, who trailed with 267,576 votes (27.8 percent), and Republican Belinda Alexandrenko, who polled 54,842 votes (5.7 percent).[8]

2015 reelection bid

Strain earlier said that he would likely run for governor when the seat was contested again in 2015.[9] The incumbent, Republican Bobby Jindal, was term-limited.

In 2012, Strain, presumably seeking future allies in a race for governor, became the first statewide or multi-parish political figure to make an endorsement in the heated 3rd congressional district race between Republican incumbents Charles Boustany, a Moderate Republican and Jeff Landry, a conservative. Strain chose Boustany, the winning candidate, having cited the representative's past support for the agricultural sector.[10] The 3rd district seat is now held by a conservative Republican, Clay Higgins.

On June 28, 2013, Strain bowed out of further consideration in the 2015 gubernatorial race and announced in New Orleans that he would instead seek a third term as agriculture commissioner; in his words, "to keep the job I love." Then Lieutenant Governor John Leigh "Jay" Dardenne, Jr., who sought the governorship, expressed satisfaction that Strain would not be running because the two would have appealed to the same segment of voters had both entered the race to succeed Bobby Jindal.[11]

In the primary on October 24, 2015, Strain defeated the Democrat Charlie Greer of rural Natchez in Natchitoches Parish; a fellow Republican, Jamie LaBranche of LaPlace, in St. John the Baptist Parish, and a Green Party opponent, Adrian "Ace" Juttner of Abita Springs.[12] Strain polled 603,557 votes (58.2 percent) to Greer's 312,335 (30.1 percent), LaBranche's 85,363 (8.2 percent), and Juttner's 36,180 (3.5 percent).[13]

Strain won a fourth term as commissioner in the primary held on October 12, 2019.

References

  1. Representative Mike Strain Enters Agriculture Commissioner Race," Financial News at Yahoo Finance; 2007; no longer accessible on-line.
  2. Mike Strain.org, no longer on-line.
  3. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 23, 1999.
  4. Mike Strain.org; no longer on-line.
  5. "Mike Strain standing by an old ally," The New Orleans Times-Picayune, undated; no longer accessible on line.
  6. Louisiana Secretary of State, Election Returns, October 20, 2007.
  7. Robert Travis Scott, "Odom quits race for re-election" The New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 25, 2007.
  8. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 22, 2011.
  9. "Strain eyeing 2015 governor's race," Monroe News Star, January 24, 2012.
  10. Jordan Blum, "Boustany gets Strain's support," The Baton Rouge Advocate, October 31, 2012.
  11. "Strain to skip governor's race," The Monroe News Star, June 28, 2013.
  12. Angela Thomas (September 10, 2015). Candidates Qualified in Statewide Elections. KEEL (AM) Radio. Retrieved on April 16, 2021.
  13. Louisiana Secretary of State, Primary election returns, October 24, 2015}}