EXCLUSIVE: Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican and proud Cajun from St. Martin Parish, says he has what it takes to help his state halt its population crisis, and take its place in the South as a destination for people and businesses to thrive.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital, Landry, who is seeking to reclaim the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge from Democrats in Louisiana’s gubernatorial election this year, said his love for the state that his family has called home for more than 300 years was the main reason he is running.
“I think that Louisiana deserves a government as good as its people. I think that if you go anywhere around the country, you can find a taste of Louisiana on any menu. But here in Louisiana, a decent job and a good education seems to be eluding the people,” he said.
“I love the state. I love her people. I love her culture. And I think that we deserve to take our place in the South. And so after spending seven years as the attorney general working on issues that are important not only to people in Louisiana, but to many across the country, and pushing back against federal intrusion, we think it’s time to try to take Louisiana to the top,” he added.
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Landry lamented how Louisiana was the worst of the only two southern states with a shrinking population, Mississippi being the other, in a time when more people from across the U.S. are choosing to move south. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Louisiana tied for second as the state with the largest population loss as a percentage between July 2021 and July 2022.
Beyond the state’s workforce and education issues, Landry attributed the net negative migration to the number one issue he said was on the minds of Louisianians and would be his first focus should he become governor: crime.
“We are holding three polling places in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the country. We have three cities, a state of 4.5 million people. I mean, the state, population wise, is not as big as some huge metropolitan areas, and yet we have three cities that are in the top ten most dangerous cities,” Landry said.
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He touted his seven years experience as the state’s top law enforcement official, as well as his time as a civilian and military police officer, arguing that there was not anyone else in the race who knew how to get a handle on violent crime better than him.
Landry’s main Democratic opponent, former Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, has received the endorsement from outgoing Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who has maintained a surprisingly higher than expected approval rating in the traditionally Republican-leaning state despite the rise in crime.
When asked if he thought that could complicate his chances at flipping the governor’s mansion red, Landry said voters could tell the “very stark difference” between a Democrat-run state and a Republican-run one.
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“When you look at other states like South Dakota, like Arkansas, like Florida, like Ohio, in Mississippi… you start to see a distinct difference between how those red states are performing economically and how blue states are performing economically,” he said.
He added that during his single term serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Louisiana’s 3rd Congressional District from 2011 to 2013, he realized the solution to getting the country on the right track did not lay in Washington, D.C., but rather in the states. “I believe we fix our country when we fix our states. And I think people are starting to recognize that,” he said.
Louisiana’s majority-vote system, which pits all candidates of every party against each other in one primary to whittle down to the final two candidates if none reaches 50%, means the 2024 presidential primary race, expected to be going full throttle at the time of the October primary, could play a role in which party’s voters decide to turn out across the state.
Former President Trump, who is largely viewed as the front-runner on the Republican side and who many blamed for the GOP’s underwhelming performance in the 2022 midterm elections, could play a larger-than-life role in driving voter turnout from either side should he maintain his front-runner status.
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When asked about that possibility, Landry pointed to Trump’s overwhelming support from Louisiana voters during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections and dismissed any notion that the presidential contest would affect the gubernatorial race.
“We’re not a swing state. The voters in Louisiana seem to have spoken a number of times about their support for President Trump. Normally, presidents don’t campaign a lot in Louisiana because of that. It is really a red state. It’s just time for the state of Louisiana to have a red governor,” he said.
The primary is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14. A candidate can win outright in the primary if they receive 50% of the vote. If no candidate receives 50%, the top two candidates will advance to the general election in November.
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