Nobody should have been surprised at this, as it’s been rumored for a long time – at least since word leaked that Jeff Landry traveled to Mar-A-Lago to pow-wow with the once and perhaps future president a couple of months ago.
But now the endorsement has come, and Team Landry now has Team Trump in its corner. A press release from Landry’s campaign this morning…
Jeff Landry, the official endorsed candidate by the Louisiana Republican Party, received the endorsement of President Donald Trump in his race for Governor of Louisiana. This endorsement is part of a growing list of GOP supporters including Congressman Mike Johnson, Congressman Clay Higgins, former Congressman Ralph Abraham, businessman Eddie Rispone, businessman Boysie Bollinger, the Club for Growth, as well as numerous Republican Parish Executive Committees (RPEC) across Louisiana. There will be many more endorsement announcements in the coming weeks.
“I am endorsing your Attorney General Jeff Landry for Governor. He has been a fantastic Attorney General. He wants to stop crime. He loves the people of Louisiana just like I do,” said President Donald Trump.
So what’s the effect of this? Does it change the gubernatorial race much?
Not to minimize the Trump endorsement, but our answer is not really.
Most people pretty much baked a Trump endorsement into the equation with Landry a while ago. It’s been several months since Donald Trump, Jr. backed Landry, so it was assumed the old man would come along eventually as well.
And the Trump base in Louisiana is, generally speaking, Landry’s base.
What we would say to this is it probably cements Landry into the runoff with Shawn Wilson. With Landry having the state party’s endorsement plus the Trump endorsement, plus both GOP candidates from the 2019 election, plus some $8 million or more in the bank, it’s just really hard to see anybody jumping him.
And if Trump spends any time in Louisiana campaigning for Landry that’s likely to seal this thing even more. Which we expect Trump to do because it’s in his interest to back winners this year after taking a few high-profile losses (Mehmet Oz, Kari Lake, Don Bolduc) on endorsees last year. With the governor’s races in Louisiana and Kentucky really being the only high-profile contests on the electoral schedule this fall, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Trump camps out here to a large extent and does everything he can to put his imprimatur on Landry.
Of course, Landry can’t just run as the Trumpiest Trump who ever Trumped. That was Eddie Rispone’s strategy in 2019 and it was a disaster. Landry has to run a race based on an entirely Louisiana-centric message.
So far, he seems to be doing that. The Trump endorsement gives him some national air cover to do that.
Is there danger a Trump endorsement might ultimately be a net negative? We don’t really think that’s possible in the Louisiana gubernatorial primary. Even if through indictments or other things the media might attempt to tar Trump with, that brand isn’t going negative with Louisiana conservative or Republican voters, of which there are enough that Landry can mobilize some 30-35 percent sufficient to make the runoff. And in the general election, while it’s down the road enough that maybe a series of events could sully Trump’s brand, you still run up against the strong possibility that Shawn Wilson’s ceiling is below 50 percent.
Which we think it is, for two reasons – we don’t think a black Democrat can get to 50 percent in this state, and we don’t think you can sell the Secretary of Transportation from the past seven years as worthy of a promotion.
That doesn’t have much to do with Trump. But getting to the runoff does, and that’s why this endorsement matters.