Jeff Landry will become the 57th governor of Louisiana after a surprising outright victory in the recent primary elections.
Previously serving as the Republican attorney general for eight years, Landry will succeed the current Democratic Governor, John Bel Edwards, in January. Although polls predicted a runoff between Landry and Shawn Wilson, Wilson notably underperformed, especially among African-American voters. Ultimately, Landry secured about 51.5% of the votes while Wilson only garnered 26%. None of the other “major” candidates achieved even 10% of the vote share.
Although Shawn Wilson was not as emphatically pro-abortion as Democrats in other states, local news media noted that he would have been the most pro-abortion Governor in the state’s history.
Wilson’s resounding defeat to a very pro-life Republican is another example (along with Texas Governor Greg Abbot and Attorney General Ken Paxton) that refutes the popular narrative some in the media tried to create that after the 2022 election abortion was a winning issue for Democrats nationwide.
During his victory speech, Landry emphasized unity and high expectations for the government. Meanwhile, Wilson, attempting to be the first Black candidate to win a statewide office in 150 years, gracefully conceded.
The voter turnout for the primary was 36.5%, somewhat lower than expected. Landry’s primary campaign benefited from vast fundraising, endorsements from key Republicans like former President Donald Trump, and his pitch as a staunch conservative ready to tackle issues like abortion, crime and “woke” politics. On the other hand, Wilson, endorsed by Edwards and the Louisiana Democratic Party, showcased his bipartisan approach and extensive experience in state governance.
Late in the campaign, other candidates, Hunter Lundy and Stephen Waguespack, indicated that Wilson’s chances were slim. However, the primary’s result proved that neither of them, nor any other candidate, could compete against the two frontrunners, Landry and Wilson.
Pro-Lifers Looking Forward to Decisive Action
As Jeff Landry prepares for his transition from Attorney General to Governor of Louisiana, his unwavering commitment to pro-life laws during his tenure as AG stands out prominently. This commitment was exemplified in his heated battle with Judge Don Johnson over the enforcement of the state’s abortion ban, which emerged as one of his defining moments in service.
In July 2022, Judge Johnson issued a restraining order that halted the enforcement of Louisiana’s abortion ban, following legal challenges spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Landry took a firm stand against this, lambasting the New York-based pro-abortion law firm for its disruptive tactics in the state’s judicial system.
Landry’s regular confrontations with abortion rights groups, especially the Center for Reproductive Rights, was watched keenly by both his advocates and detractors. His resolute defense of the abortion ban contrasted sharply with the approach of then-Governor John Bel Edwards.
While Edwards identified as one of the last Democrats to label himself as pro-life, his position on the right to life was perceived by many as being much weaker than that of Landry, and when the state legislature refused to take away the right to life from children conceived in rape, he issued a scathing statement.
“I simply do not understand how we as a state can tell any victim that she must be forced by law to carry her rapist’s baby to term, regardless of the impact on her own physical or mental health, the wishes of her parents, or the medical judgment of her physician. As I have said before, rape and incest exceptions protect crime victims. We must do all that we can to protect them and sadly, the committee failed to do so today.”Governor Bel Edwards
Pro-lifers have long shown that rape exceptions hurt both the mother, who is often pressured to abort by family and doctors, and the innocent child who is innocent of the circumstances that led to his or her conception.
Beyond legal conflicts, the ideological differences between Landry and Edwards were evident in policy-making as well. Edwards often pursued socialist policies purportedly meant to reduce the demand for abortions via enhanced health care and education. In contrast, Landry exhibited a bolder approach, challenging the judiciary and ardently supporting the enforcement of pro-life laws.
As Landry gears up for his new role with a distinct conservative mandate, many anticipate a rejuvenated effort from him to ensure the enforcement of Louisiana’s strong pro-life protections. Given the GOP’s super-majority in the legislature, pro-life initiatives are predicted to gain further momentum.
Pro-abortion supporters are bracing themselves for renewed challenges under Landry’s leadership, voicing concerns about the potential implications for women’s rights in the state. Abortion activists have voiced concerns such as maternal mortality and decreased emergency care in states like Texas and Alabama, but those grim consequences of defending the right to life of preborn children have proven to be campaign scare tactics not based in reality.
On the other side of the spectrum, pro-life champions are optimistic that Landry’s governance will position Louisiana as a benchmark for other states considering strong pro-life legislation.
As it stands right now, Louisiana law bans all abortion as the intentional taking of an innocent baby’s right to life. The exceptions in the law are very limited and do not include rape and incest but do allow for abortion to save the pregnant woman’s life, to prevent serious risk to the pregnant person’s physical health, and if the baby is not expected to survive the pregnancy.
As is always the case after pro-life victories, prolifers are gearing up for the forthcoming period in Louisiana as pro-abortion advocates seek to disrupt Landry’s ability to make a lasting impact in Louisiana. However, with Landry leading the way and with a large legislative majority, the balance could tilt decisively in favor of solidifying and defending pro-life protections.