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Incoming GOP Louisiana Gov Jeff Landry Is YIKES
Would’ve been nice if more people voted.
The Louisiana 2023 primary elections had the worst voter turnout in a dozen years, and that’s a shame, as those who did vote made some terrible decisions.
Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry absolutely crushed Democrat Shawn Wilson 51.5 percent to 26 percent. Despite early poll predictions, Landry won a clear majority so Wilson was spared the humiliation of a runoff. None of the other candidates even reached 10 percent each.
An estimated 36 percent of Louisiana’s three million registered voters showed up for the primary. Turnout was disproportionately low in traditionally Democratic areas, such as the dismal 27 percent in Orleans Parish.
“I think that in Louisiana, Democrats are in serious trouble,” Baton Rouge-based pollster John Couvillon said bluntly. “And it’s not just Shawn.”
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More people should vote, period, regardless of who they pick. However, it’s not clear that increased Black turnout might’ve improved the final result for Wilson, who underperformed among the Black voters who did cast ballots. Wilson himself is Black and was attempting to become Louisiana’s first Black governor since Reconstruction. (The first ever was Oscar Dunn, who was born into slavery. Dunn died suddenly in office at 49 and there was speculation he was poisoned.)
The tepid enthusiasm for Wilson and Landry’s relative strength among Black voters is somewhat surprising considering Landry ran an overtly racist campaign. Piper French, staff writer at Bolts, wrote:
In his announcement video, the candidate blasted Louisiana’s “incompetent mayors and woke District Attorneys” for what he sees as their role in allowing crime to proliferate. He doubled down in a series of campaign videos that called out the DAs of Caddo, East Baton Rouge, and Orleans for the three parishes’ crime rates, highlighting images of the two Black prosecutors but omitting any footage of East Baton Rouge DA Hillar Moore, who is white. “When DAs fail to prosecute—when judges fail to act – when police are handcuffed instead of the criminals—enough is enough,” he announces.
And it’s not just his words on the campaign trail that were racist, so were his actual deeds as attorney general:
In 2022, he assisted a Republican lawmaker in unveiling a bill, House Bill 321, that would have made public the criminal records of young people between ages 13 and 18 who are accused of a violent crime—but only in Caddo, East Baton Rouge, and Orleans, all parishes with some of the highest concentrations of Black residents in the state. Landry made news appearances advocating for the bill and spoke at the press conference announcing it, later using portions of his speech for campaign ads attacking those three parishes’ DAs.
Landry will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. The difference in governance will prove stark. During his eight years in office, Edwards issued 319 vetoes, and 99 percent of them were sustained. Only two were overridden, most recently his veto of a Republican bill banning gender-affirming care for minors. Landry won’t simply sign the worst bills into law. He’ll actively encourage Republicans to make them worse.
The New York Times predictably describes Landry as “a brash conservative” and “a confrontational litigator” like he’s the maverick lead in a legal drama. However, as attorney general, Landry catered to his party’s far-right MAGA base by fighting Gov. Edwards and the Biden administration in court over vaccine and mask mandates for even health-care workers, as well as sensible environmental regulations.
He was also a veritable pro-bono counsel for right-wing misinformation — leading a lawsuit that resulted in keeping the Biden administration from asking social media companies to remove content that violated their own terms of service.
Landry is a bad guy who will put the hammer to marginalized people. Yes, Louisiana is a solid Republican state and Edwards — an anti-abortion Democrat — was an outlier. But man did the Democratic Party lie down and die. Some of the races weren’t even contested. At least force the Republican candidates to spend money on campaign office space. Democrats must fight against the self-fulfilling prophecy that non-Republicans votes don’t matter.
There is also a national warning for Democrats that a horrible Republican candidate on the merits isn’t enough to inspire turnout against them. Let’s start knocking on those doors and getting everyone engaged. No lectures, either, just listen.
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