Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Jeff Landry has been inaugurated, returning the state’s highest office to GOP

by Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov.-elect Jeff Landry, a Republican endorsed by former President Donald Trump and known for his conservative positions on issues like abortion, was inaugurated Sunday evening — marking a political shift of leadership in a state that has had a Democratic governor for the last eight years.

During his 30-minute speech, Landry called for unity and expressed his love for the Bayou State while also laying out some of his priorities, including an aggressive response to addressing “uncivilized and outrageous” violent crime and safeguarding schools from “the toxicity of unsuitable subject matter.”

Landry will officially assume office as Louisiana’s 57th governor on Monday at noon. His inauguration was originally scheduled to take place Monday but was pushed up to Sunday evening due to weather concerns.

“It is fitting and appropriate that we stand today before this Capitol, the sun having set on the past and where a new Louisiana day dawns,” Landry said during his address.

Landry took the oath of office on the steps of Louisiana’s Capitol, where hundreds of people watched. Once assuming office tomorrow afternoon, Republicans will occupy all statewide elected positions in Louisiana. Additionally, the GOP has a two-third supermajority in both the state House and Senate.

Among those in attendance at the inauguration were House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Donald Trump Jr., current Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The walkways were lined with American flags and thin blue line American flags, a symbol that has become associated with Blue Lives Matter — a term which has been used by some police supporters in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Landry, who has a law enforcement background, noted the rows of flags in his speech and said, “We know too well the sacrifice you give every day and the risk you endure to protect us from those who will not follow the laws of society.”

Among Landry’s top priorities once in the governor’s mansion is addressing crime in urban areas. Louisiana has the nation’s second-highest murder rate per capita.

Landry has vowed to call a special legislative session in his first few months in office to address the issue. He has pushed a tough-on-crime rhetoric, calling for more “transparency” in the justice system and continuing to support capital punishment.

“I pledge to do all I possibly can to make our state safer and to bring an end to the misguided and deadly tolerance for crime and criminals that plague us,” Landry said Sunday.

Landry, who has served as the state’s attorney general for eight years, won the gubernatorial election in October, beating a crowded field of candidates and avoiding a runoff. The win was a major victory for the GOP, reclaiming the governor’s mansion. Edwards was unable to seek reelection due to term limits.

Landry, 53, has raised the profile of attorney general since taking office in 2016, championing conservative policy positions. He has been in the spotlight over his involvement and staunch support of Louisiana laws that have drawn much debate, including banning gender-affirming medical care for young transgender people, the state’s near-total abortion ban and a law restricting children’ access to “sexually explicit material” in libraries, which opponents fear will target LGBTQ+ books.

“Our people seek government that reflects their values,” Landry said Sunday. “They demand that our children be afforded an education that reflects those wholesome principles, and not an indoctrination behind their mother’s back.”

The governor-elect has been in national fights over President Joe Biden’s policies limiting oil and gas production and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Prior to serving as attorney general, Landry spent two years on Capitol Hill, beginning in 2011, where he represented Louisiana’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District. Before that, he served 11 years in the Louisiana Army National Guard, was a local police officer, sheriff’s deputy and attorney.

Along with addressing crime, Landry has also vowed to call a special redistricting session once in office.

Louisiana lawmakers have until the end of January to draw and pass new congressional boundaries to replace a current map that a federal judge said violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of the state’s Black voters.

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