Meet The GOP Candidates Looking To Take Back The Governor’s Mansion In Louisiana

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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  • Several Republican candidates are vying for the opportunity to take back the governorship from term-limited, Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2023.
  • The GOP contenders are largely running on crime, education and the economy, ahead of the state’s jungle primary in October, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • “I am running for Governor of Louisiana because I know that Louisiana deserves a government as good as our people, and we’re not getting it,” Attorney General and Republican candidate Jeff Landry told the DCNF.

The GOP has the chance to take back the governor’s mansion in Louisiana this November, and several Republican candidates are vying for a shot.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is reaching his term limit in a state that is almost entirely red. Several Republicans believe the Democratic leadership is to blame for Louisiana’s problems, and are running on issues like crime, education and lowering taxes, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: The GOP Could Flip Two Democratic-Held Governor Seats)

Louisiana has an open primary system, or jungle primary, on Oct. 14 where all of the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, will go up against one another. If no one gets the majority of the vote, the top two candidates will go to the general election on Nov. 18.

Attorney General Jeff Landry is an Army veteran, a former law enforcement officer, a former executive director of the St. Martin Parish Economic Development Authority and started his own oil and gas service company, according to his campaign website. The attorney general went on to serve Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011-2013 and lost reelection.

Landry is the clear frontrunner among Republicans, and already has the endorsement of the Louisiana Republican Party. The attorney general is just behind Democratic candidate Shawn Wilson, 28% to 29%, respectively, according to the most recent polling available from JMC Analytics on March 15.

The attorney general intends on being the “law-and-order” candidate for governor who will protect Louisiana families, noting the state’s high crime rates, he told the DCNF; Louisiana has the highest crime rate in the country with 564 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Landry also hopes to increase child literacy and boost the economy.

“The message I intend to send as Governor is that Louisiana is going to be a safe place — and by becoming a safe place, Louisiana is going to become an economically prosperous place,” Landry told the DCNF. “I am running for Governor of Louisiana because I know that Louisiana deserves a government as good as our people, and we’re not getting it.”

Landry is a “controversial,” “pro-Trump, MAGA conservative,” Ron Faucheux, a nonpartisan political analyst and former member of Louisiana’s state Legislature, previously told the DCNF. The real question in this race will be whether another GOP candidate can garner enough traction to become the “anti-Landry” candidate.

Former president of the Louisiana Business Association Stephen Waguespack, who served as former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s chief of staff, jumped into the race recently, so polling for the businessman is not yet available. He intends to implement school choice, tax reform and slash government regulation and bureaucracies, he told the DCNF.

[Stephen Waguespack/Screenshot/YouTube/WWLTV]

“I am committed to stopping the brain drain and [beginning] the era of brain gain here in Louisiana,” Waguespack told the DCNF. “The people of this state are tired of seeing their kids, families and friends leave for other states for jobs. They are tired of seeing other southern states grow and prosper, while we fall behind. They are tired of politics as usual and they want leaders that share their values and can also fix problems.”

Waguespack or State Treasurer John Schroder could be contenders to challenge Landry and turn the primary into a three-way race with the attorney general and Wilson, according to Faucheux.

Schroder was a special agent to the Criminal Investigation Division in the U.S. Army and served in the state Legislature. He has been a successful business owner and believes in financial transparency in government.

The treasurer, who currently has 3% of the vote in the recent poll, intends on lowering taxes and government regulations while bolstering Louisiana jobs, he told the DCNF. Schroder noted that crime is “tearing apart” the state and must be faced head on, touching on his time in law enforcement.

“I’m running for Governor because it is clear that Louisiana needs a CEO. As a business owner for over 30 years, I understand the plight that our businesses face everyday in Louisiana,” Schroder told the DCNF. We need somebody who is transparent, believes in accountability, and has walked the walk. Government should run like a business, and I am the right candidate to lead that charge.”

Another Republican running for governor is state Rep. Richard Nelson, who is the youngest of the bunch and is polling with 1% support.

Nelson is a former State Department Officer and has served District 89 as a member of Louisiana’s Legislature since 2019. He prides himself as being a bipartisan politician who can “work across the aisle” to fight for Louisianans, and will focus on the economy and education, he told the DCNF.

He will eliminate the state’s income tax to make businesses more competitive and government more efficient, Nelson told the DCNF. The legislator also wants to better the education system by improving literacy rates, offering a universal pre – K4 option and supporting teachers.

“If Louisiana were just average in the country, we would all live 4 years longer and get a 33% raise,” Nelson told the DCNF. “It is a tragedy that there is such a disparity in a state with such abundant resources. I believe bad government policies are the cause, and it will take big changes to close this gap. I have worked on these in the legislature; however, these are problems the governor needs to fix. This is my home, so I feel I have to do everything I can to make it better.”

State Sen. Sharon Hewitt is also a GOP contender who is running on her experience in office and advocates for limited government, lower taxes and school choice. Hewitt, polling at 2%, has been representing District 1 since 2016, and chairs the Senate Republican Legislative Delegation and the Senate and Government Affairs Committee.

Hunter Lundy, who is a lawyer running as an Independent, is worth watching on the Republican side, Jeremy Alford, an independent Louisiana political analyst and publisher of LaPolitics Weekly, previously told the DCNF. He received 3% support in the poll and could “run to the right” of Landry, and “peel” away votes, allowing for Waguespack or Schroder to slide in.

Regardless of who the GOP challenger is, Faucheux believes any of the Republicans would beat Wilson, as he is too progressive in such a conservative state. The Democrat is “running to the left” of where Edwards was when he ran for governor, which will make it easier for the GOP to win.

Wilson, the only prominent Democratic contender, was appointed to Louisiana’s Secretary of Transportation and Development in 2016 by Gov. Edwards and recently left the position in March.

Hewitt, Lundy and Wilson did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.

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