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Michael Gene "Mike" Strain (born December 2, 1959) is the first Republican ever elected to the position of Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry in the U.S. state of Louisianamarker. Strain, an outgoing member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Covingtonmarker in St. Tammany Parishmarker, took his new position with his state's other constitutional officers on January 14, 2008.

Background

Strain, a veterinarian and rancher, was born in Covington to Charles "Butch" Strain, Jr., and Carol Strain of Abita Springsmarker, a small town in St. Tammany Parish. He graduated in 1977 from Covington High School. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State Universitymarker in Baton Rougemarker. In 1983, he procured his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from LSU. He and his veterinarian wife, Dr. Susan Searcy Strain (born January 31, 1958), a native of Hot Springs, Arkansasmarker, operate Claiborne Hill Veterinary Hospital in Covington. The Strains have two children, Melissa and Michael. They attend St. Jane's Catholic Church in Abita Springs.

Strain, a cousin of St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack 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 and is affiliated with the Louisiana Cattlemen's Association.

State representative

In 1999, Strain was elected to the Louisiana House from District 74, a conservative constituency located in St. Tammany, Tangipahoamarker, and Washingtonmarker parishes. In 2000, he succeeded a cousin, R.H. "Bill" Strain, a veteran Democratic lawmaker. Strain was re-elected without opposition in 2003.

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 conservative questioned Strain's legislative votes for higher taxes, including his support for the Stelly Plan (named for former State Representative Vic Stelly of Lake Charlesmarker), a tax adjustment plan with higher taxes on owners of recreational vehicles. Strain also opposed a bill that would have required public school students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades to recite daily twelve lines of the Declaration of Independence. The bill in question did not establish a wise use of academic time, Strain reasoned. He supported expedited proceedings to grant divorces. He supported allowing convenience stores to offer drive-through daiquiri stands.

Nevertheless, Strain carried the support of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum, which honored him in 2007 as one of twenty-three lawmakers so designated as an "Outstanding Family Advocate".

Agriculture commissioner

Campaign

Early in 2007, Strain entered the race for Commissioner of Agriculture & Forestry of Louisiana in 2007. He opposed the 28-year Democratic incumbent Robert Fred "Bob" Odom, who in recent years had been engulfed in multiple personal corruption allegations.

Numerous newspapers endorsed Strain's candidacy. They include the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Shreveport Times, the Monroe News Star in Monroemarker (the seat of Ouachita Parishmarker in northeast Louisiana) and the Alexandria Daily Town Talk in Alexandriamarker (the seat of Rapides Parishmarker 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 U.S. Senator David Vitter, who urged voters to elect Strain in order to "move beyond our past of cronyism and corruption. "

Election returns

In the October 20, jungle 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 Zacharymarker, and Don Johnson, a farmer from Transylvaniamarker in 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.

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

Electoral history

State Representative, 74th Representative District, 1999

Threshold > 50% plus one vote

First Ballot, October 23, 1999

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mike Strain Republican 10,827 (70%) Elected
Bob Ellis Republican 3,150 (20%) Defeated
Dick Donahue Republican 1,499 (10%) Defeated


State Representative, 74th Representative District, 2003

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, October 4, 2003

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Mike Strain Republican Unopposed Elected


Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, 2007

Threshold > 50%

First Ballot, October 20, 2007

Candidate Affiliation Support Outcome
Bob Odom Democratic 505,504 (41%) Runoff
Mike Strain Republican 494,760 (40%) Runoff
Wayne Carter Republican 152,893 (13%) Defeated
Don Johnson Republican 69,470 (6%) Defeated


Notes

  1. People Search & Background Check
  2. Representative Mike Strain Enters Agriculture Commissioner Race: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance
  3. Mike Strain for Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner
  4. Louisiana Secretary of State-Multi-Parish Elections Inquiry
  5. we saw that...: the rino mike strain voting record
  6. Mike Strain for Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner
  7. People Search & Background Check
  8. Mike Strain for Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner
  9. Mike Strain standing by an old ally- NOLA.com
  10. Louisiana Secretary of State-Multi-Parish Elections Inquiry
  11. Odom quits race for re-election, Robert Travis Scott, Times-Picayune, October 25, 2007



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