I’d say it was perhaps a tactical mistake – or more likely a regrettable leak – that the word got out about the Louisiana Republican Party’s early endorsement of Jeff Landry as its gubernatorial candidate for 2023, something which appeared in a USA Today Network article by Greg Hilburn Monday morning…
Louisiana’s state Republican Party has endorsed GOP Attorney General Jeff Landry in the 2023 governor’s race to the chagrin of other top potential candidates who claim Landry is trying to rig the campaign before everyone is at the gate.
As first reported by LaPolitics Weekly, the Louisiana Republican Party executive committee voted Sunday night to endorse Landry in an effort to coalesce support behind a single candidate.
The vote came after wealthy Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and former Congressman Ralph Abraham, the top two Republicans in the 2019 race who were beaten by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, endorsed Landry last week and encouraged the party to follow suit.
There was some whining about it, for sure…
But Republican Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Republican Treasurer John Schroder, who are also expected to run for governor but haven’t made formal announcements, balked at the early maneuvering.
“Almost a year out? This is more about money and inside party politics!,” Schroder said Monday morning in a statement. “There’s still a lot of water that must pass under the bridge. Ultimately, the citizens of Louisiana must have candidates who present ideas and solutions to fix the problems of this state.”
Nungesser told USA Today Network is endorsement “shameful.”
“There’s nothing more conservative or Republican than free market competition and this endorsement process looks more like Communist China than the Louisiana we love,” Nungesser said.
Apparently, Jefferson Parish sheriff-turned-WWL-AM-talk host Newell Normand went ballistic Monday morning about the endorsement as well.
I have a lot to say about this, and my intention was to wait until the LAGOP put out its press release on the endorsement, which you’d expect would come after the midterms Tuesday.
So, you ask, why did the executive committee vote to do the endorsement Sunday night? That’s easy – it meets on Sunday nights, and there was already a majority, from what we gather a substantial majority, of the Republican State Central Committee in favor of going ahead with the endorsement of Landry.
I’ll have more to say about this after the announcement, but I’ll just leave it at this for now – we’ve gone through two gubernatorial election cycles where the Louisiana Republican Party has watched a disastrous Democrat candidate with no business winning a statewide race waltz into the governor’s mansion for the specific reason that multiple gubernatorial candidates with R’s next to their names chopped each other to pieces in a jungle primary.
All the while, members of the RSCC have been screaming at the tops of their lungs that a jungle primary kneecaps their ability to organize a gubernatorial campaign so that a Republican isn’t kneecapped.
They’ve demanded that the state legislature do something about the jungle primary, and they’ve demanded that the primary be moved up so there isn’t a scant five weeks between the primary and the general election. That tiny five-week window means there isn’t enough time to salve hurt feelings from the primary and to reload in fundraising. Just as bad, it also means there is no break in the campaign and the voters don’t get a respite from the non-stop TV and radio ads, and there is no time to test messaging with polls to see if it needs to be tweaked from the primary to the general – so the campaigns are hamstrung in their ability to respond to the will of the electorate.
Everything about Louisiana’s system of primaries and general elections sucks, and the results of that system prove it.
So after eight years (or, really, a lot more than that) of the problem being blatantly obvious and the political class doing nothing about it – and in Nungesser’s case, openly opposing any efforts at reforming it – the RSCC has obviously decided to take matters into its own hands and they’re attempting to freeze out the other Republican contenders by endorsing Landry.
And by the way, in the case of Nungesser and Schroder neither one has a viable argument. And Normand especially doesn’t have one.
The correct response to Newell Normand’s howling, if you’re a member of the RSCC, rhymes with”Buck Zoo.” Normand, after all, helped to torpedo an anti-sanctuary city statute in Louisiana, putting him on the wrong side of a core Republican issue not to mention a core issue to the American people. And more than that, Normand actively worked to elect and re-elect John Bel Edwards while calling himself a Republican. Normand also abused his office as Jefferson Parish sheriff in order to violate the civil rights of a David Vitter campaign operative who was recording his loud bellowings about how he was going to “get” Vitter in a public coffee shop.
Why he isn’t despised as a Louisiana answer to Bill Kristol or Arlen Specter is a good question. So he can rail on the radio until he turns purple or strokes out and nobody on the RSCC should give the first red damn what he thinks. In fact, the angrier he gets, the better.
As for Nungesser and Schroder, neither one are currently running for governor. Nor are any of the other prospective Republican candidates. None of them have made a public announcement that they were getting into the race despite having held fundraisers.
Landry is running. Landry hasn’t gotten cute about any of this. He didn’t tell Rotarians in Lake Providence that he was running and then publicly vacillate about it, or give a weak statement that maybe he’d get in sometime in January, and he didn’t send out a text message telling donors he was going to run but then do nothing about it. Instead, he jumped into the race and he’s been doing all the things necessary to win.
These guys haven’t done those things, knowing – or if they didn’t know, that’s their manifest failing – that among the conservative activists on the RSCC who have been elected by their fellow Republicans to represent them as the party’s governing body there is an immense thirst for unity around one candidate.
It’s impossible to have any sympathy for the undeclared candidates. The early bird has gotten the worm, period.
I’ll stop at that, because there’s a whole lot more to be said about this but I’m saving some of it for later this week.