Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry testifies during the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing on March 30, 2023.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Democrats’ two-term hold on the governorship of Louisiana will come to an end next year after Republican state Attorney General Jeff Landry won the seat Saturday by capturing a majority in an all-party primary.
Landry had more than 51% of the vote when The Associated Press called the race after 11 p.m. ET, running far ahead on a ballot that featured 16 candidates, including Democrats, independents and Republicans.
The victory precedes two more red state governor’s elections this fall, including one in which Republicans hope to flip a seat. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky is seeking a second term on Nov. 7, while Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is doing the same in Mississippi.
The large number of Republicans in the Louisiana race was expected to make it difficult for Landry to gain a majority in the first round, instead forcing a one-on-one runoff with the leading Democratic candidate, former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson. But Landry, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, consolidated support.
Wilson ran in second place with 26%, while the third-place Republican, Stephen Waguespack, was far behind with 6%.
Landry will succeed Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is term-limited after he won the deep red state in 2015 and 2019. Landry, a Republican former member of Congress, has been vocal about his support for the state’s near-total ban on abortion and has promoted his work as attorney general on the opioid crisis and on crime.
Landry’s opening TV ad of the election focused on criminal justice, touting his career as a police officer and his time as attorney general and featuring him saying: “Your criminal justice system is broken. … We’re going to hold everyone, and I mean everyone, accountable for violent crime.”
Landry was long seen as the GOP favorite. He was the top fundraiser in the campaign and spent almost $9 million on TV ads, according to AdImpact, an ad-tracking platform. And he was endorsed by a slew of elected Republicans in addition to Trump, including Sen. Bill Cassidy and Reps. Steve Scalise, Clay Higgins and Mike Johnson.
Wilson spent over $730,000 on the airwaves, not nearly as much as Landry. He spent time in his campaign pledging to “bridge divides” and “find common ground.” He was also endorsed by Edwards, the state Democratic Party and Democratic Rep. Troy Carter.
Wilson was also the subject of attack ads funded by a group tied to the Republican Governors Association. In one such ad, the narrator calls Wilson “Biden’s buddy,” tying him to President Joe Biden.