As the potential candidates for governor shore up their fundraising and messaging games, a Republican state representative from St. Tammany Parish said in an interview last week that he is “seriously” considering his own bid.
While the better-known names involved with this developing race have made some moves in recent weeks, the interest expressed by freshman Rep. Richard Nelson is a timely reminder that the 2023 slate for governor is not etched in stone. “I’m seriously looking at it,” Nelson says. “The bigger boys have the kind of money that scares people away, but I don’t think the field is settled.”
An Eagle Scout with a biological engineering degree, Nelson was selected for the Foreign Service of the U.S. State Department. His diplomatic experience would certainly be a unique attribute.
But as Nelson pointed out, he’ll need more than credentials to capture Louisiana’s top political prize. That’s probably why Attorney General Jeff Landry and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser have been aggressive about raising money for their campaigns over the past few years.
No one has actually announced for the 2023 contest, but Landry and Nungesser have had their names at the top of the list longer than anyone else.
Landry, who’s able to tap into money from outside of the state as a former congressman, had $2 million in his personal campaign finance account as of April. But that’s just the tip of the financial iceberg for the attorney general.
He also has Cajun PAC, which serves as a sort of leadership fund that is used, among other functions, to support candidates for office. That secondary account had $158,000 in it as of May. Plus, there’s Louisiana Citizens for Job Creators, a super PAC that has supported Landry in the past and had $221,000 in its kitty as of February. “We plan to be there for him again in 2023,” says a PAC spokesperson.
As for the rest of the field:
• In his own March filing, Nungesser showed $1.5 million in the bank.
• Nelson’s campaign reported holdings of $22,000 around the same time.
• Treasurer John Schroder, who has been touring the state and thinking about the race, has $550,000 in his war chest and another $8,000 in his leadership PAC.
• Sen. Rick Ward, who said last month he may jump into the fray, had $139,000 in his • account earlier this year. His father of the same name, who recently retired as a district attorney, also has $108,000 in his account that could potentially play a role.
Anticipation is growing for early 2022, when all of these Republican politicos will have to file new annual reports.
If there’s another unknown keeping observers up at night, it might be which Democrat will eventually join the show. So far no reliable names have surfaced, but party leaders insist they will have a marketable candidate.
The developing Republican field isn’t exactly waiting around on Democrats. Last week, for example, Landry spoke to the Ouachita Republican women’s organization, which was covered by KNOE-TV. Even though his speech focused on policy issues, Landry fielded questions about running for governor.
Landry told KNOE-TV that if he ran for governor, election integrity would be his chief campaign issue. According to folks close to Landry, however, that claim may have lacked some context. While election integrity is important to Landry, he is not planning a single-issue campaign, supporters say.
Nungesser, for his part, recently appeared on KEEL Radio and suggested he may be in the Governor’s Office before the 2023 election takes place—due to the line of succession. “You know, there’s a lot of talk out there that the governor may be considered for a post after redistricting in February with the Biden Administration,” Nungesser said during the broadcast.
No one in the Edwards Administration seems to know anything about a potential appointment. But they certainly know what we are quickly learning—the 2023 campaign season is here, whether we like it or not.