KALB Exclusive: AG Jeff Landry wants to unify the state in race for governor

Landry received LAGOP’s endorsement in November 2022
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 8:56 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) became the first candidate to enter the 2023 Gubernatorial Race, launching his official campaign in October 2022. Soon after, the Louisiana GOP endorsed him as their pick for the office. It was a move seen as unprecedented and largely controversial by fellow Republicans, many of whom were rumored to possibly launch campaigns of their own but, at that point, had yet to.

To Landry, however, it was the right move.

“We got out in October. We laid out why we were running for governor. Why we believed we were the right candidate. Everyone else kind of went back and forth, really didn’t make a case for whether they were running or not,” said Landry. “So, the party said, ‘Look we’re not going to wait anymore. We’re going to make an endorsement.’ They did it through a democratic process, where a majority of the Republican State Central Committee said, ‘We’re gonna get behind one candidate because we’re gonna be serious about tackling the issues that face our state.’”

Landry said the move was reflective of the election process in other states where a candidate is determined during a closed primary, bemoaning Louisiana’s process of candidates duking it out in an open primary election. Instead, he said the theme of the LAGOP’s decision was about unifying the party and the state.

Since the LAGOP’s move in November, five more candidates have entered the field, four of whom belong to the Republican party. One of those, Xan John, already admitted defeat in his campaign announcement, saying he is only looking to the future with his announcement but will be backing the LAGOP-endorsed candidate.

“I’m not running against anyone. I’m running for something,” said Landry.

A prominent conservative politician in his seventh year as attorney general, Landry said he does not believe his policies are left or right, Republican or Democrat, but rather they are the state’s values.

In recent years, however, Landry has taken up controversial and hot-button issues in the state and nationwide, like the COVID-19 vaccine mandates and abortion, leading some to call his work divisive. In an aggressive effort against abortion in the state, Landry even went so far as telling those opposed to pro-life policies and laws to go to pack their bags and leave the state if they disagreed.

“How are you looking to unify the people of Louisiana behind your campaign with statements like that?” News Channel 5 asked Landry.

“Well because you unify people when they respect the law. All I did was basically recite what the law is. I don’t make the law as the attorney general. I enforce the law. I uphold the law as the attorney general,” he responded.

Landry said people were telling others to ignore the law. He said picking and choosing which laws to uphold leads to issues like high crime rates and the opioid epidemic.

“We end up with a state made up of men and not of laws. That’s something that our founders always warned us about,” said Landry.

Looking ahead at if Landry were elected to the state’s highest seat, News Channel 5 asked him if voters could expect the laws around abortion to become even stricter. State Rep. Danny McCormick (R-District 1) introduced legislation in the 2022 Regular Legislative Session in HB813 that would have done that, criminalizing both the woman receiving the abortion and her doctor.

Landry said he believes the laws on the books are sufficient, and it is time to educate not legislate.

Overall, Landry’s campaign tends to hone in on the outward migration of residents from the Pelican State, leading to a fallout of other issues in the process.

“We continue to lag. We’re always last on all of the good lists and first on all the bad lists. And people have had enough. They deserve a government as good as the people of this state,” said Landry. “We want Louisiana to take its place. We want the people of Louisiana to not only be proud of our culture and our food but our way of life. And that people will start to come and move into Louisiana or certainly we’re able to capture the talent that already exists in Louisiana.”

Landry said while the state lags, other states with similar demographic and population makeups, like South Carolina, have surpassed Louisiana economically and in quality of life. So, in his campaign, Landry is focused on three policy areas: the economy, education and crime.

“If you’re tired of being in a state that consistently watches your children, your neighbors, your relatives leave for places like Texas and Georgia and other places, then join me,” Landry said.

Landry served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 1987 to 1998. He received a law degree from Loyola University in 2004 and became a practicing attorney. In 2010, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Congressional District 3. He was ousted in 2012 by Charles Boustany, Jr., a Democrat, when the district was rearranged during the redistricting process.

He entered the office of attorney general in 2016 after defeating Buddy Caldwell (R), followed by Ike Johnson (D) in his 2019 re-election bid.

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