BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — In the race for governor, just one Democrat is looking to be able to force a runoff. Former DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson remains high in the polls as the primary election nears.

Wilson is running on the message that he can bridge the divide of partisan politics.

“I have a sense that we have become so extreme and I looked at the field of candidates and saw that the divide that we have in our state in terms of partisanship and extreme politics, they’re not going to work to make us smarter, not healthier, nor will it make us wealthier,” Wilson said.

The Democrat has worked in state government for over 25 years and wants to expand on the investments that began over the last administration. He is in favor of keeping the half-cent sales tax to do so and be prepared for the next disaster.

“How will we make long-term investments to not put us in a predicament where we’re back to those Jindal deficits that we saw in 2015?” Wilson said.

While there has been a focus on early childhood education in recent years, Wilson believes the state hasn’t gone far enough.

“We haven’t done enough because there are hundreds of young people who are going to go without because of the decisions that were made in the legislature that funded an unprecedented amount. But it was not as much as we could have funded,” Wilson said.

He said education is a priority because it also will play a role in tackling crime. When it comes to tackling juvenile crime he said the solution isn’t to build more facilities to house them, but rather trying to get to the root cause of the crime statistics. 

“How are you investing in mental health? How are you investing and addressing the unhoused issue that we see in communities that makes people unsafe? Those are the things that we need to be talking about, not looking at just locking people up,” Wilson said.

With talks of the Republican supermajority legislature looking to roll back some of the criminal justice reforms, Wilson said he has a history of being able to work across the aisle on issues and wants to find ways everyone can agree to make a dent in the crime problem.

“You’ve got to start with a bipartisan approach to dealing with real solutions. Let’s not just talk about symptoms,” Wilson said.

Wilson supports calling a special session to address the insurance crisis. He said the incentive fund was a last-ditch resort and more needs to be done to get ahead of the problem.

“The big insurance companies who are making billions of dollars off of the Louisiana taxpayers, they’re going to be the ones who are going to come back next year and say we need another incentive,” Wilson said.

Turning to the Capitol where social issues have stolen the spotlight of recent sessions, Wilson believes the governor made the right choice to veto the few bills aimed at the LGBTQ community, including the state’s version of the Don’t Say Gay bill.

“I think we’ve got too much bureaucracy placed on teachers. I think that is going to hamper them,” Wilson said.

On abortion, he is for adding exceptions for rape and incest into the state’s strict ban.

“I have learned the importance of separating what I believe, what’s good for me and my family from what’s good for the public,” Wilson said. “I believe that women ought to have that right to make a decision with a doctor.”

Wilson said when voters are deciding who to pick at the polls look at the work each candidate has accomplished.

“Look at what they’ve been responsible for for the last seven and a half years and determine if you’re satisfied with the work that they’ve been assigned to do and if that’s reason to promote them,” Wilson said.

The primary is on Oct. 14. The general election will be on Nov. 18.