On January 7th, our former Attorney General Jeff Landry was sworn in as the state’s 57th governor. Governor Landry’s swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address were held the day before he officially took office (historically, the second Monday of the year at noon) because of forecasted storms the next day, hopefully not ominous foreshadowing of the next four years. Landry’s past, personally and professionally, is important to understand because with Republican supermajorities in both chambers in Baton Rouge for the next four years, what Landry wants, he is likely to get.

Governor Landry got the who’s who of endorsements from the Republican Party, not only in the state but in the country: former President Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump, Jr., current Speaker of the House, and our representative, Mike Johnson, as well as the Republican Party of Louisiana, all officially endorsed the governor. Landry has earned these high-profile endorsements from a body of work not only as Louisiana’s Attorney General but going back to his time in Congress representing the Third District, where he made waves for holding up a sign that said, “Drilling=Jobs” during President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress.

Years later, nothing has changed: Landry rose to national prominence as our Attorney General after his stint in Washington, D.C. Not content to only oppose President Obama in Congress, Landry joined 17 other Republican attorneys general in a lawsuit in 2018 (ultimately called Texas v. United States at the Supreme Court, where it wound up) challenging the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional once the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 repealed the individual mandate tax penalty for not having health insurance. A district court judge in Texas ruled in favor of the lawsuit, prompting celebration from its proponents but condemnation for Landry from Governor Edwards, saying he “did not think this through.” That lawsuit was eventually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 ruling because the Court determined Landry et al. did not have standing to sue. Landry was also part of a concerted effort led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton with nine other Republican attorneys general (one of whom eventually withdrew) in 2017 to pressure the Trump administration to finally rescind DACA, an Obama-era memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security, threatening legal action if he did not. “We are a nation of laws, not of men, and we must act in a way that respects the process of legal citizenship,” he said at the time. The Trump administration did terminate DACA after Landry’s effort, yet the Supreme Court later overturned the termination because it was considered “arbitrary and capricious.” Landry released a celebratory statement after a federal judge in Texas declared DACA unlawful and stopped new applications to the program in July of 2021, calling it a “win…for the rule of law” (DACA has been ruled against multiple times since its inception, including as recently as 2023, yet it still remains in judicial limbo, not officially legal, but not officially gone, either). Louisiana has approximately 2,000 DACA recipients.

Undaunted, Landry was also part of Texas v. Pennsylvania, again initiated by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which challenged the election results in four states, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, for changing their election procedures unlawfully during the 2020 presidential election. This lawsuit, too, failed over justiciability; the Court ruled Texas did not have standing to sue other states. All of Landry’s vigor has not gone unrewarded, however; in June of 2018, he was voted president of the National Association of Attorneys General, ultimately making him the “top cop” of top cops. “I am thankful the nation’s chief legal officers have bestowed this tremendous honor upon me…Every state and territory has dealt with natural disasters, mass violence, or terror…I am optimistic that my initiative will offer resources and emergency plans that protect the people we serve,” he said after his win. Landry has also picked a federal fight with the Biden administration against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, which he won in the 5th Circuit Court. 

     At home, no policy arena was off limits. Landry sued Governor Edwards after Edwards appealed a district court’s enjoining his Executive Order JBE 2016-11, which was designed to protect LGBT state employees from discrimination at a time when there were no codified LGBT laws in Louisiana, in December 2016. Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Landry in November 2017, and Governor Edwards’ appeal to the state Supreme Court in March 2018 also failed when they declined to hear the case and agreed with the lower court’s ruling. Landry was also a key player in the highly publicized veto override by the state legislature for H.B. 648, which had been killed in committee at the time by the tie-breaking vote of Republican Senator Fred Mills. In response, Landry took to Twitter to say, “As attorney general for 8 years, I have worked hard to protect our children. I urge the full Senate to take up and pass HB 648. As governor, I would immediately sign this bill into law. Pediatric sex changes should have no place in our society.” The Senate then voted for the bill to change committees, where it received new life. The rest, as they say, is history. In Governor Landry’s inauguration speech, he made not-so-veiled swipes at LGBT teachings (and perhaps other subjects) in Louisiana schools, referring to its being taught as “the toxicity of unsuitable subject matter.” Expect consistency to be one of Governor Landry’s strengths, not a trait politicians are usually known for.

Speaking of schools, Governor Landry is a staunch advocate for school choice and has campaigned for pro-school choice legislation since his stint in D.C. His campaign website states, “No child should be trapped in a failing school,” and he recorded a video message last year celebrating National School Choice Week. With his longstanding support, it is not a matter of if but when school choice legislation gets passed during his term. Governor Edwards vetoed a pro-school choice bill last year; there is no reason now why that bill or others like it won’t get another go-round and pass. 

     Governor Landry, a husband to his wife Sharon for over 20 years and father to son J.T. exudes a distinctly Cajun personality whose love for Louisiana radiates, and he could not hide it in his inauguration speech. Brimming with affection, he stated, “If America is a melting pot, then Louisiana is the gumbo that fills the pot.” Whatever policy decisions he may make over his tenure as governor and the legacy that he leaves, he likely already said the most defining thing to be remembered as governor: “If I had 100 lives to live, I would live them all in Louisiana.” His love for the state is undeniable, and his zeal for his causes cannot be denied.

The difference now is there’s nothing in his way to stop him.