MANDEVILLE, La. (BRPROUD) — State Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville) has announced his candidacy for governor of Louisiana.

Nelson is an engineer, attorney and former diplomat who was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2019. At 36, he is the youngest declared candidate currently in the race.

“Louisiana has everything going for it, but is held back by leaders who are stuck in the past,” Nelson said in his announcement video. “If Louisiana were just average in the country, we’d all live 4 years longer and get a 33% raise. That’s what bad government is costing us: four years of our lives and a third of our income.”

Nelson grew up in Mandeville, where he was an Eagle Scout and valedictorian of Mandeville High. He graduated in both Biological Engineering and Law at LSU. Nelson served for seven years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State, living in Washington, D.C., Germany, and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Nelson runs his own consulting firm, and he and his wife Ashley live in Mandeville with their three boys.

Nelson has made waves at the legislature carrying legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana that did not pass but advanced farther than any bill had previously. He also has been researching ways to eliminate the state income tax and plans to bring legislation to do so this year. He has passed bills aimed at improving child literacy.

In running for governor, he will forgo his ability to seek re-election to his current seat.

“This election we have a choice between career politicians or real solutions, big money or big ideas. I’m 36 years old. I’m not just in this for the next four years. I’m fighting for our next 40 years,” Nelson said.