Landry: If I Run Against JBE, I’ll Beat Him

How about a little braggadocio on a Thursday? For that we give you Jeff Landry, Louisiana’s Attorney General who has been doing political battle with Gov. John Bel Edwards ever since he took office and is now willing to turn thing up a notch or two in sparking some conversation about next year’s all-important 2019 gubernatorial race.

Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry says he is considering challenging Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in next year’s election, The News Star reports, because so far no other GOP candidate has united the party for the race.

“There’s no doubt if I run I will beat John Bel Edwards, and you can tell him I said that,” Landry said Wednesday in an interview with USA Today Network.

Landry, in his first term as attorney general, said his plan, prior to Wednesday’s interview, was to run for re-election.

“When I fill up with gas, when I’m at Walmart, when I’m speaking to groups, the people keep saying, ‘I hope you’re running for governor,’” he said, “and I’m finding it harder and harder to tell them no.

“We don’t have a candidate who has said (he or she) is running who has been able to unite the (Republican) party (against Edwards). So that has caused me to reconsider. It has caused me to re-evaluate the political landscape.”

Our sense is Landry would probably prefer to play kingmaker in the 2019 race rather than slug it out with Edwards himself. But if he’s anything, the Attorney General is unafraid. He’s been taking on tough fights in politics for a solid decade, unexpectedly beating the pants off former Louisiana House Speaker Hunt Downer in a 2010 congressional race, going toe-to-toe with Charles Boustany in 2012 after his congressional district was folded into Boustany’s and taking on incumbent Buddy Caldwell in 2015 and beating him convincingly. A run against Edwards would be the next logical progression for him.

But so would, say, a senatorial run if John Kennedy were to run against Edwards in 2019.

And one interpretation of this is Landry is trying to goose some GOP candidates into the race – because if he’s successful doing that he might generate an ally or two in his messaging war against Edwards. So far Landry has been mostly by himself in that respect – on the recent death penalty debate, on Medicaid (but not exclusively), on Edwards’ attempts to use state contracts to create new classes of civil rights protections (transgenders, for example) that the legislature has refused to sanction, and other issues. Landry’s role as chair of the Louisiana Committee for a Conservative Majority means he’s in charge of raising cash and recruiting legislative candidates, and that job only gets easier when there is more fire directed at Edwards from the right.

Of course, another interpretation is that Landry might have some poll numbers indicating that he’s viable against Edwards next year – and if Kennedy isn’t getting in, at that point there is no reason Landry shouldn’t.

Regardless, it’s clear the 2019 race is going to be upon us sooner rather than later.

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