Republican Jeff Landry Wins The Louisiana Governor’s Race, Reclaims Office For GOP

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican backed by former President Donald Trump, has won the Louisiana governor’s race, holding off a crowded field of candidates.

The win is a major victory for the GOP as they reclaim the governor’s mansion for the first time in eight years. Landry will replace current Gov. John Bel Edwards, who was unable to seek reelection due to consecutive term limits. Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.

Landry, 52, has raised the profile of attorney general since being elected in 2015. He has used his office to champion conservative policy positions. More recently, Landry has been in the spotlight over his involvement and staunch support of Louisiana laws that have drawn much debate, including banning gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths, the state’s near-total abortion ban that doesn’t have exceptions for cases of rape and incest, and a law restricting youths’ access to “sexually explicit material” in libraries, which opponents fear will target LGBTQ+ books.

By garnering more than half of the votes, Landry avoided a runoff under the state’s “jungle primary” system.

Landry has repeatedly clashed with Edwards over matters in the state, including LGBTQ rights, state finances and the death penalty. However the Republican has also repeatedly put Louisiana in national fights, including over President Joe Biden’s policies that limit oil and gas production and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Landry spent two years on Capitol Hill, beginning in 2011, where he represented Louisiana’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District. Prior to his political career, Landry served 11 years in the Louisiana Army National Guard, was a local police officer, sheriff’s deputy and attorney.

During the gubernatorial election season, Landry had long been considered the early frontrunner, winning the endorsement of high profile Republicans — Trump and U.S. Rep Steve Scalise, who was nominated to be the next House speaker on Wednesday — and a controversial early endorsement from the state GOP. In addition, Landry has enjoyed a sizable fundraising advantage over the rest of the field throughout the race.

Former President Donald Trump arrives at New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, accompanied by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, left. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Former President Donald Trump arrives at New Orleans International Airport in New Orleans, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, accompanied by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, left. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Landry has made clear that one of his top priorities as governor would be addressing crime in urban areas. The Republican has pushed a tough-on-crime rhetoric, calling for more “transparency” in the justice system and continuing to support capital punishment. Louisiana has the nation’s second-highest murder rate per capita.

Along the campaign trail, Landry faced political attacks from opponents on social media and in interviews, calling him a bully and making accusations of backroom deals to gain support. He also faced scrutiny for skipping all but one of the major-televised debates.

Among other gubernatorial candidates on the ballot were GOP state Sen. Sharon Hewitt; Hunter Lundy, a Lake Charles-based attorney running as an independent; Republican state Treasurer John Schroder; Stephen Waguespack, the Republican former head of a powerful business group and former senior aide to then-Gov. Bobby Jindal; and Shawn Wilson, the former head of Louisiana’s Transportation and Development Department and sole major Democratic candidate.

Also on Saturday’s ballot were statewide contests for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and treasurer and four ballot measures.

One closely watched race is attorney general, which holds the highest legal authority in the state’s executive branch. Liz Baker Murrill, a Republican who currently works at the Attorney General’s Office and Lindsey Cheek, a Democrat and trial attorney, have advanced to a November runoff.

Also advancing to a runoff in the state treasurer race is John Fleming, Republican, and Dustin Granger, Democrat.

There are hundreds of additional localized races, including all 39 Senate seats and 105 House seats, however a significant number of incumbents are running unopposed.

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