Trump-endorsed candidate Jeff Landry wins Louisiana governor race

Jeff Landry during a speech outside of Congress.

A Republican politician backed by former president Donald Trump has won the race to become Louisiana’s new governor.

Fifty-two-year-old attorney general Jeff Landry has become the first GOP candidate to take on the position in eight years, replacing Democratic governor John Bel Edwards after he reached consecutive term limits.

Landry has become notorious for using his position as attorney general – which he has held since 2016 – to instil conservative policies within the state, leading to clashes with the Democratic former governor.

After Landry attempted to block Edwards from requiring state contracts to protect against LGBTQ+ discrimination in 2016, the governor sued Landry over a refusal to approve the contracts.

More recently, Landry has been outspoken in his support for several anti-LGBTQ+ bills pushed by Republicans in Louisiana, including banning gender-affirming medical care for trans youth and a near-total abortion ban that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or sexual assault.

Landry has also called for more “transparency” in the justice system while reaffirming his support for the death penalty.

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The GOP governor-elect has a gay brother, who has previously urged him to reverse his opposition to LGBTQ+ rights.

“Today’s election says that our state is united,” Landry said during his victory speech on Saturday (14 October).

“It’s a wake up call and it’s a message that everyone should hear loud and clear, that we the people in this state are going to expect more out of our government from here on out.”

Jeff Landry becomes the first Louisiana GOP governor-elect in eight years

The governor-elect managed to gain more than half of the votes, avoiding an expected runoff under the state’s “jungle primary” system. It has been over a decade since there was last no gubernatorial runoff in Louisiana.

While the GOP governor has said he is focused on issues such as crime, Landry is also expected to push more anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

According to data from the American Civil Liberties Union, Louisiana politicians have implemented four anti-LGBTQ+ bills since the beginning of 2023. Two have been defeated, while one was merged with another to create a single gender-affirming care ban that was later passed after a dispute with Edwards.

Louisiana-based pollster John Couvillon told The Hill prior to the votes being counted that Democratic turnout had been “weak” in the state.

“Normally, early voting tends to favour Democrats, and Republicans as of Saturday night cumulatively have a plus-5 lead,” Couvillon explained.

Democratic runner-up Shawn Wilson told crowds during his concession speech: “The citizens of Louisiana spoke, or didn’t speak, and made a decision.”