Jeff Landry, Republican attorney general, wins Louisiana governor’s race

It was the GOP’s best shot at picking up a governor’s seat this year.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry (R)(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) will become the next governor of Louisiana after winning enough votes in Saturday’s all-party primary election to avoid a November run-off.

Landry was leading the 14-candidate field with 52.1% of the vote when the Associated Press called the race with more than 95% of the vote counted Tuesday. More than 50 percent was required for an all-out win. Shawn Wilson, the only major Democrat in race, finished second with 25.4%.

Landry will succeed term-limited Gov John Bel Edwards (D), the only Democratic governor in the deep South.

Louisiana was one of three southern states where the governor’s race was in play this year. But with a crowded field and a pervading sense that the conservative state was ready to return to Republican leadership, the race  failed to attract the same level of attention – either in the state or nationally – as more competitive contests in Kentucky and Mississippi.

Landry, who ran a criminal justice-themed campaign, cultivated a reputation as the inevitable frontrunner, with a huge fundraising lead, early backing from former President Donald Trump, the state Republican Party, and other high-profile politicians in the state. He led every poll during the primary.

Landry served one term in Congress before his district was eliminated in redistricting and he lost to a fellow GOP congressman in 2012. After being elected attorney general in 2015, Landry sealed a reputation as a culture warrior by using the office to champion Republican policy issues and challenge Edwards’s executive power.

Wilson, who supports abortion rights, struggled to overcome the perception that he is too far to the left for Louisiana, which voted for former president Donald Trump by double digits in 2016 and 2020.

Wilson had Edward’s support and the backing of the state Democratic apparatus. He portrayed himself as a “bridge builder,” though the Republican Governors Association has already started airing ads blaming him for allegedly failing to address the poor condition of the state’s infrastructure while he ran the Department of Transportation.

Other Republicans in the race included state Treasurer John Schroder (R), former state Chamber of Commerce CEO Stephen Waguespack (R), state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R) and several others who have never held public office.