Louisiana Democrats seek to grab centrist vote as Republicans eye governor’s seat

2023 Election-Governor-Wilson
FILE – Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, left, speaks about proposed surplus spending on roadwork as Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards listens, March 28, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. Melinda Deslatte/AP

Louisiana Democrats seek to grab centrist vote as Republicans eye governor’s seat

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Louisiana Democrats are attempting to attract centrist voters to get another Democrat elected governor. Republicans are trying to claim one of the last Democratic governorships in the South.

Seven months out from the 2023 Louisiana gubernatorial election, Republicans and Democrats are beginning to gather around their preferred candidates.

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The Cook Political Report reported that former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson has emerged as the only major Democratic candidate, making his nomination almost certain. State Attorney General Jeff Landry aims to be the Republican nominee, and his only notable challenger is lobbyist Stephen Waguespack.

Former President Donald Trump won the state by nearly 20 percentage points in the past two presidential elections, but Louisiana has a Democratic governor, the popular but term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Edwards achieved his position and high ratings by adopting a centrist platform. He’s one of the few anti-abortion Democrats in the country.

Democrats are hoping to continue this centrist strategy in the next election.

Wilson announced his candidacy on March 6 in a video that touted his accomplishments as transportation secretary and focused on his ability to work with Republicans.

“Louisiana needs a governor who will build bridges, not burn them,” he said, referencing his work on bipartisan infrastructure projects.

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His announcement video reflects the state Democratic Party’s strategy of pursuing enough centrist voters to tip the scales in their favor. They’re looking to capitalize on Edwards’s momentum. State Democrats are also hoping Wilson’s status as a black American will fully consolidate the minority vote in the state.

Meanwhile, the Republican field is somewhat more complicated. The apparent front-runner, Landry, is a hard conservative. Some Republican strategists in the state were hoping to get a more centrist candidate in the form of Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA). However, he decided to stay in Congress after seemingly entertaining the idea for months.

Waguespack, a wealthy lobbyist with extensive business ties, is Landry’s only notable opponent in the Republican field. The candidate hasn’t pursued what was thought to be the natural strategy of portraying himself as more centrist. He took a straightforward conservative approach.

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Landry displays his conservative credentials prominently on his website. It emphasizes his position as “Pro-Life and Pro-Family” at the top of his campaign values page. He also touts his pro-Second Amendment and fiscally conservative credentials, ensuring a Republican strategy of consolidating the conservative vote.

A recent survey conducted March 6-8 showed Wilson and Landry were the clear favorites at 29% and 28%, respectively. The numbers are likely to have changed since the consolidation of each field.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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