Nov 28, 2023 - Politics

Republicans set for historic statewide control in Louisiana

Illustration of a giant elephant about to step on a tiny donkey.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

When Jeff Landry takes the oath to become Louisiana governor in a little more than a month, it'll be the start of a historic hard-right turn in state politics.

The big picture: For the first time since the Reconstruction Era, Louisiana will have both a Republican governor and GOP supermajorities in the state Legislature. Plus, a Republican will lead every statewide elected office.

State of play: During his two terms, outgoing Democrat John Bel Edwards vetoed bills that would have criminalized approaching police, banned certain school vaccine requirements and banned gender-affirmative care for transgender minors.

  • Republicans will now likely face little opposition on such measures.

What they're saying: "We can't undo everything [Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards] did, but we are going to try," Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, told the Louisiana Illuminator.

How it happened: Republicans have had a supermajority in the state Senate since the 2019 election. They got a two-thirds advantage in the House earlier this year when Rep. Francis Thompson switched from the Democratic Party.

The other side: With Landry's well-documented history of often combative conservative rhetoric and his tenure as attorney general backing it up with action, the left-leaning portion of the state is already concerned about what comes next for state policy.

  • "On social welfare issues, we'll be Florida on steroids," New Orleans City Council president and former state legislator JP Morrell, a Democrat, told The Guardian.
  • Once Landry takes office, state policy shifts to the right are expected within K-12 education, gun rights, taxes and prison sentencing, the Louisiana Illuminator reports.

Reality check: But even a supermajority can't protect Republicans from infighting.

  • "Anybody who thinks this is going to be smooth sailing, that's not the way politics works, and that's not the way human behavior works," says Dillard University urban studies and public policy professor Robert Collins.
  • Instead, it's safe to expect that different interests within the GOP will create wedges. For example, the state offers variance between northern and southern, urban and rural, or Trump-aligned versus moderate Republicans.
  • "So that's how Democrats will exercise their power," Collins tells Axios New Orleans. "They can be a swing vote."

What's next: The political games will begin quickly.

  • Landry will have to hit the ground running with a court-mandated special session to redraw the state's congressional map.
  • Plus, incoming Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple has asked for a special session, and Landry has also said he'll call one on crime.
  • No special session has yet been scheduled, and the regular legislative session begins March 11.
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