(USA Today Network)- Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry said he is considering challenging Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in next year’s election because so far no other GOP candidate has united the party for the race.
“There’s no doubt if I run I will beat John Bel Edwards, and you can tell him I said that,” Landry said Wednesday in an interview with USA Today Network.
Landry, who is in his first term as attorney general, has said he planned to run for re-election before Wednesday’s interview.
“When I fill up with gas, when I’m at Walmart, when I’m speaking to groups the people keep saying, ‘I hope you’re running for governor’ and I’m finding it harder and harder to tell them no,” Landry said.
“We don’t have a candidate who has said (he or she) is running who has been able to unite the (Republican) party (against Edwards),” he said. “So that has caused me to reconsider. It has caused me to re-evaluate the political landscape.”
Landry and Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the South, have been feuding since both were elected in 2015.
Their latest dust-up is over the death penalty, which hasn’t been carried out in Louisiana for years because Edwards and corrections officials said the drugs are unavailable for lethal injection.
Landry has said the state should find away to carry out executions whether it be from gas, hanging, firing squads or bringing back the electric chair.
“It’s no secret I disagree with the governor more than I agree with him,” Landry said.
The governor’s spokesman responded with the following statement:
“Gov. Edwards is focused on doing his job,” said Richard Carbo, Edwards’ deputy chief of staff. “Right now, more people are working in Louisiana than ever before, our unemployment is at a 10-year low, last week the federal government announced that our economy grew faster than 35 states and Medicaid expansion is saving lives and creating jobs.
“Those are results that the people of Louisiana deserve. The governor will continue to work across the aisle to put Louisiana first because that’s what he was elected to do.”
So far 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, has been the most vocal in expressing his interest to run for governor, although he hasn’t committed.
Landry actually tweeted his support for Abraham in December: “Ralph Abraham would make a great governor, sure we could count on his pro life record!”
But the attorney general said he hasn’t yet sensed a surge of support for Abraham, who is running for re-election in Congress this fall before he makes an official decision on the governor’s race.
“Ralph may end up being that candidate, but since he’s expressed interest there hasn’t been a lot of circling the wagons around him,” Landry said. “I don’t retract my comment, but we’re getting into a kind of critical decision making time. If we’re going to have a candidate we need to find one and soon.”
Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, who has also been a frequent foe of Edwards, has said he is considering the race but hasn’t tipped his hand.
“I’m looking forward to having that conversation with Sen. Kennedy and if that’s what he wants to do let’s get on with it,” Landry said.
“My goal is to see a united front behind a single candidate,” he said. “I’m not trying to clear the field for Jeff Landry. It doesn’t have to be me, but it may be me.
“My preference continues to be to continue the mission we started as attorney general, but at the end of the day I recognize for the betterment of Louisiana we need a change.”