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News / Nation & World

Republican Louisiana becomes more red than ever under Landry

New governor has enacted sweeping conservative agenda

By SARA CLINE, Associated Press
Published: June 21, 2024, 3:44pm

BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana has long been reliably red. The Bayou State has voted for the Republican candidate in every presidential election since 2000, with residents overwhelmingly supporting Donald Trump during the past two, and the GOP has held a majority in the statehouse for years.

But policies in the state have veered even further right under the leadership of Republican Gov. Jeff Landry, who has carried out a sweeping conservative agenda in just six months on the job. This week he signed the nation’s first law requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted in every public classroom, a first-of-its-kind bill allowing judges to order the surgical castration of rapists who prey on children, and a Texas-style immigration measure that allows law enforcement to arrest and jail migrants who enter the U.S. illegally. He enacted a new law classifying abortion pills as dangerous controlled substances. He expanded death row execution methods and concealed carry of a gun without a permit.

The moves have made global headlines and firmly embedded Louisiana in the conservative movement on practically every issue animating the Republican base in 2024. Democrats are appalled at the message Landry is sending, but some conservatives in Louisiana see the moves as a bold and powerful step as he raises his national profile.

“From about 500 miles away, it certainly appears that he has been effective very quickly,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based GOP strategist who has worked for two Congress members and a governor. “He has hit the ground running, and the potential is really high.”

When Landry entered office in January, he did so with Republicans having secured every statewide elected position for the first time in nearly a decade.

With the help of the Legislature, he also upheld one of the country’s strictest abortion bans and pushed anti-LGBTQ+ policies, including Louisiana’s version of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

While Landry hasn’t indicated whether he will sign the Democrat-authored castration bill into law, many Republicans and several Democrats supported it.

GOP lawmakers, in turn, have often praised the former state attorney general and one-time congressman.

“It certainly gives you hope that your efforts are going to be productive when you’ve got a governor who you know where he stands on things and also know that there’s a good chance he will sign them,” said state Rep. Michael T. Johnson, the House speaker pro tempore.

Johnson said Landry is a leader who he believes will “move the state forward.”