Rep. Graves not running for governor, says he has more work to do in Congress

BATON ROUGE – Congressman Garret Graves has finally put rumors over his political future to rest.

Graves, who represents much of the Baton Rouge area in the 6th Congressional District, announced Tuesday that he will not run for governor of Louisiana. 

It has been speculated for months that Graves may seek the governorship. He has been coy about his intentions as several fellow republicans have already announced they will run to replace outgoing Governor John Bel Edwards, who cannot seek another term as governor due to term limits.

Graves on Capitol Hill

Graves was reelected to represent Baton Rouge in Congress in November. He handedly beat his challengers with more than 80-percent of the vote. His closest challenger, Libertarian Rufus Craig, only garnered 13-percent of the vote. 

He has represented Louisiana in Congress since 2015 when he replaced Bill Cassidy, who left the U.S. House of Representatives to run for the U.S. Senate. He defeated former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards by 25 points to win the seat. 

Graves was previously an aide to several Louisiana Congressmen on Capitol Hill before he was appointed to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority by former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in 2008. In that position, he represented the state against British Petroleum during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. 

So, who is running for Governor?

Louisiana attorney general Jeff Landry and state treasurer John Schroder were the first two republicans to jump into the race.

Landry’s candidacy sparked controversy last November when he received an unusually early endorsement by the Louisiana Republican Party. That endorsement along with an endorsement from Donald Trump, Jr. has equated to millions in his campaign war chest.

Since the endorsement, state representative Richard Nelson and Louisiana Senate majority leader Sharon Hewitt have also entered the race.

Nelson, a first-term state representative, made a splash with his unique campaign video. Using dinosaur costumes, he targeted politicians he deemed ‘stuck in the past’.

Xan John, a former U.S. Senate candidate from Lafayette, also said he will run.

Lake Charles attorney Hunter Landry is running as an independent candidate. 

Outgoing DOTD secretary Shawn Wilson is the only democrat to announce he is running for governor. He resigned as the transportation secretary to focus on his campaign.  

Who’s not running?

Louisiana’s two U.S. Senators both bowed out of the race. Dr. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, who was just re-elected in November, say they are focused on their role in representing Louisiana in D.C.

“For the last several years, I have been working on specific legislation that is critical for the future of our state and country,” Cassidy said in his decision. “I don’t know if these solutions will pass, but I know they will not pass if I decide to run for another office. “

Kennedy had a similar sentiment, “At this juncture, I just think I can help my state and my country more in the Senate.”

Lieutenant Governor Bill Nungesser won’t run for governor and will instead run for re-election. Mike Strain, the commission of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, will also seek re-election instead of running for governor.

Race for Governor

The gubernatorial primary is set for October 14, 2023. Louisiana has a jungle primary, meaning that all candidates of any party will appear on the same ballot. Voters can vote for any candidate regardless of their registered party affiliation.

With so many candidates, it is unlikely any candidate will reach a simple majority in October. That would force a run-off between the top two candidates in November.

The top vote getter in that run-off would be the next governor of Louisiana.

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