Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s attorney general and a staunch conservative, beat out a crowded field of candidates to become the state’s next governor on Saturday, cementing Republican control of Louisiana after eight years of divided government.
Mr. Landry, a brash conservative who has repeatedly fought Democratic policies in court as Louisiana’s top solicitor, will replace Gov. John Bel Edwards, a two-term limited Democrat. At Saturday’s “primary events” in the jungle, where candidates of any political affiliation face each other, Mr. Landry stunned many political observers by winning more than 50 percent of the vote and eliminating the need for a runoff.
His victory guarantees a far-right government for Louisiana – a state where Republicans have controlled the legislature for a decade but have faced resistance from Mr Edwards, who has vetoed several bills, including those aimed at LGBTQ people. It comes at a time when the country is facing a major increase insurance rates and a shrinking population.
A wide field of more than a dozen candidates, including Democrats, independents and rival Republicans, set the odds high for an outright victory for Mr. Landry. If no candidate secured a simple majority, the two top vote-getters would face off in a runoff election next month.
But Mr. Landry won with 51.6 percent of the vote, followed by Shawn Wilson, a Democrat and former state transportation secretary, who received 25.9 percent of the vote. None of the other candidates — a group that included Stephen Waguespack, a top business lobbyist and aide to former Gov. Bobby Jindal; John Schroder, state treasurer; and Sharon Hewitt, a state senator — reached double digits.
Mr. Landry, an adversarial litigator and politician, won over much of the Republican base by fighting Mr. Edwards and the Biden administration in court over the pandemic vaccine mandate, efforts to work with social media companies to limit the spread of misleading or false theories and environmental regulations.
He served as a sheriff’s deputy and two terms as a member of the House of Representatives as the Tea Party took over the US government. But during the last eight years as the state prosecutor Mr. Landry used the power of political office and his particular style of combative conservatism.
During the coronavirus pandemic, he challenged local and national mandates for vaccines and masks for health care workers, students and federal workers, expressing skepticism even though vaccines have been proven to help stop the spread and effects of the virus.
He also helped lead lawsuits that led to a federal judge restricting the Biden administration from talking to social media companies and saw the Supreme Court rein in the administration’s ability to reduce carbon emissions.
And he defended some of Louisiana’s more controversial decisions, including a congressional map that blacks challenged as a violation of a landmark civil rights law and its abortion law, one of the strictest in the country. (At one point, Mr. Landry openly Say it critics might leave country.)
During his campaign for governor, Mr. Landry has vowed to crack down on crime in the state, though critics have noted that crime-fighting falls under the purview of the attorney general. He also pledged to end a “woke program” in Louisiana schools and support parents’ rights to make decisions for their children, hinting at an effort to limit access to gender-affirming care for transgender children and literature deemed sexually explicit. .