Sunday, May 26, 2024

Republicans decry party executive committee’s early endorsement of Landry in 2023 gubernatorial race

by BIZ Magazine

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

Some Louisiana Republicans are sounding off after the party’s executive committee voted over the weekend to endorse Attorney General Jeff Landry’s bid for governor in 2023.

The Louisiana Republican Party’s executive committee voted to endorse Landry over the weekend at the urging of Republican megadonor Eddie Rispone, who lost his bid to unseat Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2019.

Rispone joined with former Congressman Ralph Abraham, who also ran for governor in 2019, to endorse Landry and encourage his fellow Republicans to follow suit in an email last week.

Rispone and Abraham argued it’s critical for Republicans to rally behind a single candidate to win in 2023.

“Considering those that have indicated they will run, I have decided to support Jeff Landry,” Rispone wrote in the email last week to GOP members. “I encourage other (Republican State Central Committee) members to consider doing the same, so we can start organizing ourselves around the state to ensure the election of a strong conservative governor.”

The vote to endorse Landry sparked immediate backlash from both RSCC members and prominent state Republicans considering a bid for governor next year.

“I got wind of tonight’s clandestine meeting right as it was apparently set to begin and the odor was foul,” RSCC member Michael DiResto wrote to The Advocate in an email. “For a party that’s been harping for two years about election integrity and honoring the will of all legitimate voters, tonight’s action by the state GOP executive committee stinks like yesterday’s diapers.”

“I have no horse yet in the governor’s election, because we haven’t even heard any of the announced or potential candidates spell out a policy platform,” he wrote. “But as a lifelong Republican, the idea that a small cabal would preempt the democratic process literally under the cover of darkness and in a smoke-filled room goes against the foundational values of our party. I predict it will backfire.”

State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, a potential 2023 gubernatorial candidate, responded to the endorsement on Twitter Sunday.

“The citizens of Louisiana do not need back room deals and political insiders telling them who should be our next Governor,” she wrote. “They are fully capable of deciding this themselves.”

Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser, who is expected to join the governor’s race, also took to Twitter to condemn the endorsement.

“There is nothing more conservative, nothing more @lagop, than competition,” he posted Monday. “This endorsement process looks more like communist China than the Louisiana we know and love. Some think this is a coronation. Real republicans will make sure we have an election, not a monarchy.”

Republican Treasurer John Schroder, another potential contender for governor, responded with a prepared statement.

“Almost a year out? This is more about money and inside party politics!” Schroder wrote Monday. “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.”

Louisiana’s gubernatorial election to replace term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards will occur on October 14, 2023 with a jungle primary in which all candidates will appear on the same ballot. If one candidate does not receive more than half the vote, the top two vote recipients face off in a general election on November 18, 2023.

Rispone lost to Edwards in the 2019 general election 48.7% to 51.3%.

Lake Charles attorney Hunter Lundy is the only other candidate to announce a race for governor, as an independent.

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