Three Republicans are running against Attorney General Jeff Landry in the race for governor despite a call from the head of the Louisiana Republican Party not to.
On Monday, Louisiana GOP Chairman Louis Gervich issued a statement discouraging U. S. Rep. Garrett Graves (R-Baton Rouge) and other Republicans from running against Attorney General Jeff Landry in this year's governor's race. Still, on Wednesday, state Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville) announced his candidacy, joining state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) and state treasurer John Schroder (R-Covington) in the growing field of GOP candidates.
What does this say about the state of the Louisiana Republican Party?
"I think it demonstates that there's not a consensus candidate," said LSU political science professor Robert Hogan, who added that the Republican Party's endorsement may or may not help Jeff Landry in the long run.
In fact, he says the apparent rift in the party could lead to a Democrat--or, at least, a moderate candidate--winning the governorship.
"If it looks like the activists behind closed doors and in smoke-fille rooms have made a decision about who they want the nominee to be without giving the public a say, then there certainly be a reaction," Hogan said.
Still, Hogan says there may be a silver lining to Landry having competition. He says because Louisiana is such a GOP stronghold, Republicans are confident that one of their own will win the governorship this fall. That's why, he believes, so many GOP candidates are lining up to run. Hogan also says this public battle Louisiana GOP members could mean the party is stronger than it appears.
"This is a state that is very Republican in terms of its outlook (and) in terms of its voters," Hogan noted. "I think that the acrimony that you're observing in the Republican Party is an indication of how strong the party feels its position is. They can talk about these things in public because they know ultimately a Republican will probably do well in the election."