Louisiana gubernatorial election: Meet the front-runners competing for Louisiana governor

2023 Election Debate
From left, gubernatorial candidates John Schroder, Sharon Hewitt, Stephen Waguespack, Hunter Lundy and Shawn Wilson take part in the first televised debate of the Louisiana governor’s race at the WWL-TV Studios in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (Sophia Germer/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, Pool) Sophia Germer/AP

Louisiana gubernatorial election: Meet the front-runners competing for Louisiana governor

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The primary race for Louisiana governor is just around the corner as Republicans hope to win back the top seat in the state’s executive branch.

Voters are expected to dwindle a field of 16 candidates down to two candidates on Oct. 14 in the state primary. But under Louisiana law, voters could select two people from within the same party to advance to November’s run-off, or a winner could be declared on the 14th if they receive more than half of the votes.


The two front-runners in the race are state Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican, and former Louisiana Secretary of Transportation and Development Shawn Wilson, the lone Democrat.

Here is everything you need to know about the front-runners.

Jeff Landry:

Louisiana’s attorney general is hoping to move up into the top leadership position in November and has the endorsements of the Louisiana Republican Party, the National Rifle Association, former President Donald Trump, and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA).

Landry has centered his campaign on crime in the state, even as he serves as the state’s chief law enforcement officer. He has also come out against abortion, supports parental rights in education, and supports law enforcement.

In a new ad that focused on crime, Landry promised to hold a special legislative session solely on crime but did not provide details on what kind of policies would be prioritized in the session. In the ad, speakers claimed that Landry would be a “law and order” governor, but opponents claim he has not done enough as the top cop to manage the rise in violent crimes.

Landry is also leading in campaign fundraising and has focused on advertising through television and social media. But given the crowded Republican field, he is not expected to secure the 50% needed to avoid the run-off.

Shawn Wilson:

Wilson, who has earned the support of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA), is considered a long shot for the governorship in a deep red state, despite the current governor being liberal.

The former state transportation secretary has come under fire recently for removing the term “pro-life” from his campaign website and dodging a question on whether he was for or against abortion during a debate last month. Wilson merely said he understands “the importance of trusting women with their own bodies.”

But the state Democratic Party has endorsed Wilson, who said he has centered his campaign on four “kitchen table” policies that will make residents safer, smarter, healthier, and wealthier.

“Safer in terms that we’re making sure your property is protected, and your life is protected,” Wilson told local news outlet KPLC. “Making sure that we have a workforce that’s trained and educated from zero to four and fully funding childhood education. Making sure that we maintain Medicaid expansion, so that people can be healthy, and of course, you can’t be a wealthy person if you don’t earn. So, those three things of being safer, smarter, and healthier absolutely translate to us being a wealthier state.”


Although the race is looking like it will come down to Wilson and Landry, independent candidate Hunter Lundy is hoping to pull voters from both sides of the aisle. Lundy, who has painted himself as a Christian conservative but financially liberal when it comes to funding education, is still a dark horse in the race but has climbed into one of the top six slots which made him qualify for the debates.

If the special run-off election is necessary, it will take place on Nov. 18, 2023.

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