A member of the Landrieu family—one of the Bayou State’s foremost political dynasties—will be on the ballot this fall in the governor’s race.
But no, when we say Landrieu, we’re not talking about Mitch, the former mayor of New Orleans or Mary, the former U.S. senator, or even Moon, the former Crescent City mayor and secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Despite a somewhat rocky start to their relationship with Gov. John Bel Edwards, the triumvirate of formerly elected Landrieus seems to have joined the rest of the state’s Democratic establishment in support of the incumbent.
Instead, cousin Gary Landrieu has entered the governor’s race as an Independent. While they share a common name, he shares little else with his kin. According to Gary, he has virtually no contact with his politically-inclined relatives and they are not supporting his campaign for governor. He isn’t seeking their endorsement either.
“They’re finished,” he tells LaPolitics. “They’re in the past and I’m the future.”
The disdain is mutual on both sides of the clan. “Everybody’s got crazy cousins,” Mitch told The New York Times when asked about Gary in 2014.
The familial differences are political as well as personal. While as mayor, Mitch led the charge to remove Confederate statues in New Orleans, Gary has campaigned on putting them back up. While both Mitch and Mary have been critical of President Donald Trump, Gary has been an unabashed supporter who agrees with building a border wall and cracking down on illegal immigration. “I voted for him and I absolutely support him,” Gary says, referring to Trump.
Since officially declaring his candidacy about three months ago, Landrieu has launched a campaign website and social media accounts, put up billboards and started driving his RV across the state to meet with voters. Despite his disagreements with his relatives, he readily admits that the Landrieu name packs a political punch. With a well-known name and some old fashioned campaigning, he hopes to be able to parlay both into votes on Election Day. “I have the name recognition that nobody has,” Landrieu says. “My family has been in this business for over 50 years.”
According to Landrieu, he is focusing the vast majority of his efforts on the area south of Interstate 10, where he believes that the best opportunities for him to garner support. Campaign stops are already planned for Lafayette, Lake Charles and River Parishes. When asked about his opponents, he says, “I don’t see any of those guys doing well south of Baton Rouge.”
It is worth noting that this run for governor is not Gary Landrieu’s first campaign for public office. He has previously run unsuccessfully for the New Orleans City Council, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Despite his misses in the past, Landrieu believes that this campaign is different. “This is the first time that I’ve felt so positive,” he says. “I went to get a snowball the other day and my sign was on the snowball stand.” He excitedly adds, “I didn’t even put it there!”
They said it: “Now, they record everything.”—Sen. Norby Chabert, on the difference between the Legislature now and the Capitol’s past, in his farewell speech.