BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s gubernatorial ballot continues to take shape with a rumored candidate opting out and others considering the possibility of a bid, with just seven months to go until the charged election.
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, a Republican who had previously said he felt “extraordinary pressure” to enter Louisiana’s gubernatorial race, announced Tuesday that he has decided not to run — saying he feels the best place for him to serve Louisianans remains in Congress at this time.
“The role you’ve enabled me to play now is to support a Governor who will lead and unite our state — a Governor with a bold, hopeful vision of Louisiana’s promise that is equal to her potential,” the congressman said in a written statement.
Graves added that in the coming days the “field for Governor will brighten” and that the state will “have a generational opportunity to write America’s greatest comeback story.”
Currently four prominent Republicans are running to lead the state: Attorney General Jeff Landry; State Treasurer John Schroder; state Sen. Sharon Hewitt; and state Rep. Richard Nelson.
Former Louisiana Transportation Secretary, Shawn Wilson, officially entered the governor’s race Monday. Wilson, who appears to be the only high-profile Democrat that will run for the state’s top government post in October, received current Gov. John Bel Edwards’ endorsement Tuesday.
“If we’re going to continue to move Louisiana in the right direction, we need Shawn as our next Governor,” Edwards, a Democrat, tweeted. “He’s exactly the type of leader who will bridge the partisan divides that too often take hold of our politics.”
Also considering entering the race is and state House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Stephen Waguespack, the head of one of Louisiana’s most powerful business groups. Both are Republicans.
Earlier this month, Schexnayder told reporters that he would consider launching a gubernatorial bid if Graves opted out.
Gubernatorial candidates are required to officially submit qualifying papers to the secretary of state between Aug. 8 and Aug. 10.
Edwards, a two-term incumbent, is unable to run for governor again due to term limits — opening a huge opportunity for the GOP in a state where former President Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the last two presidential elections.
Under Louisiana’s “jungle” primary system, all candidates — regardless of party affiliation — will run against one another on the same ballot on Oct. 14. If no candidate tops 50% in that primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on Nov. 18.