Tomorrow’s runoff ballot will be a good reminder that Louisiana—politically at least—is Trump Country.
Former President Donald Trump first made his presence known in our statewide election cycle earlier this year when he endorsed Attorney General Jeff Landry, who in turn notched a massive gubernatorial win in the primary.
In a sign of things to come, Gov.-elect Landry recently announced that Aurelia Skipwith Giacometto, a former top wildlife official in the Trump administration, will lead the state Department of Environmental Quality.
Gov.-elect Landry has also patterned parts of his gubernatorial transition process after Trump’s presidential transition process, creating “Pelican Teams” to investigate matters on the agency level, like Trump did with his “Tiger Teams.”
Trump’s influence, however, won’t be limited to the state Capitol’s fourth floor.
This week Trump endorsed three other statewide candidates on tomorrow’s ballot: Solicitor General Liz Murrill for attorney general, former state Rep. Nancy Landry for secretary of state and former U.S. Rep. John Fleming for treasurer.
Trump said in a statement that all three candidates “are outstanding in every way and have my complete and total endorsement.”
Fleming, of course, served in both health and commerce roles in the Trump Administration—so he’ll likely be as open as Jeff Landry to making hires that would please the former president.
The bigger question is whether Murrill and Nancy Landry would follow suit.
If everyone indeed follows Landry’s lead, Trump will suddenly become (arguably) the most powerful non-Louisiana resident helping steer the direction of Louisiana’s government.
In other words, it may not be Gov.-elect Landry alone atop the Bayou State’s political pyramid for the next four years; former President Trump will clearly be an important shot-caller here as well.
Trump made sure to point out as much in his endorsement statement this week, underscoring how much the governor-elect needed the former president’s assistance, “With my strong endorsement, Jeff Landry made history by flipping the seat of Louisiana’s two-term Democrat governor without a runoff—Jeff will be a great governor!”
With turnout expected to land between 15% to 18% tomorrow, the Trump factor will be an interesting storyline to keep tabs on.
Elsewhere on what should be the final ballot of 2023, there are two BESE seats, 20 legislative posts and two district judgeships up for grabs. Locally, on the parish level, there will be two dozen races for sheriff, six for parish president, two for assessor and three for clerk of court.
They said it: “If you don’t understand the workings of the Legislature and the budget process, and you haven’t been exposed to that environment, it will literally eat you.” —Gov.-elect Jeff Landry, announcing his new commissioner of administration, former House Speaker Taylor Barras, during a recent news conference