The words and deeds of GOP candidates will haunt them as gubernatorial candidates

Attorney General Jeff Landry was enthusiastic Friday after an Orleans Parish judge refused to uphold a stay on the enforcement of Louisiana’s abortion ban. If you didn’t hear his remarks, don’t worry. Landry’s opponents in next year’s gubernatorial race will likely use them against him repeatedly in campaign ads.

“If you don’t like state laws, you can switch to a law under which [laws] you love,” Landry told reporters at the New Orleans courthouse. “It’s the greatness of America.”

Louisiana, love it or leave it – that’s the gist of the Attorney General’s remarks.

For a state that constantly struggles to attract and retain investment, this could not send a more damaging message. For a state that regularly struggles to prioritize education and health care, all of this is packing the bags of residents considering their options.

Landry’s comments could simply be considered a verbal fumble if not for his history of questionable positions and decisions while holding public office.

As a member of Congress in 2012, Landry asserted without evidence the Obama administration granted special exemptions to Muslims when they passed through Transportation Security Administration security checkpoints at airports. That same year, he also spoke out against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette offer a minor in LGBTQ studiesfalsely claiming that taxpayers’ money was used to support the curriculum.

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Landry continued to play on the far-right fringe becoming Attorney General of Louisiana to further cement his conservative Republican bona fides. This included continued opposition to LGBTQ causes, even in the face of opposition from his openly gay brother.

He was decidedly more supportive of another sibling, Ben, when an investigation by The Advocate and The Times-Picayune revealed the Landrys had partnered with a possible criminal to import workers in violation of immigration laws.

Landry continued his war against the newspapers when a reporter searched for public documents that would confirm his main prosecutor had been accused of sexually harassing female colleagues. Instead of complying with the request for registration, the public prosecutor prosecuted the journalist in vain. Deputy AG Pat Magee is reportedly stepping down after news of a second sexual harassment complaint against him.

Going to the mat so often for dubious causes is certain to haunt Landry’s quest for governor. With a Republican heavily favored to win the race next year, it will be interesting to see if any of the GOP contenders throw some of that dirt at him.

Another top contender, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser has his own skeletons, including baseless allegations of electoral fraud. He also controversial opposed removal of Confederate monumentsgoing so far as to ask President Donald Trump to intervene.

However, neither position is likely to deter the bulk of Louisiana’s conservative voters who are staunch defenders of the lost cause and the big lie.

It’s also worth watching what role the Louisiana Republican Party will play in the race. The state GOP endorsed Landry in 2015 when he opposed two-term Republican attorney general Buddy Caldwell. Nungesser also maintains close ties with the leadership of the State Party, especially when he and President Roger Villere worked to secure a trade deal with the Iraqi government without the knowledge or approval of Governor John Bel Edwards.

While it’s too early to cast a favorite — or even rule out other entrants — there’s one certainty you can count on in the 2023 gubernatorial race: The heavy baggage of the leading GOP candidates will be on full display.

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