Law of the Ten Commandments: Gov. Jeff Landry’s efforts to move Louisiana further to the right

Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (AP) – 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 in the last two, and the Republican Party has held a majority in the state for years.

But state politics have shifted even further to the right under the Republican governor. Jeff Landry, who implemented a vast conservative program in just six months of work. This week he signed the nation’s first law requiring that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public classroom. He enacted a new law classifying abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances. He expressed support for a bill on his desk calling for Texas-style immigration crackdown This could allow law enforcement to arrest and detain migrants who enter the United States illegally.

And business owners who have appreciated Landry’s tough law-and-order stance on issues like new methods of capital punishment are awaiting his action on a first-of-its-kind bill empowering judges order the surgical castration of rapists who prey on children.

These measures made global headlines and firmly anchored Louisiana in the conservative movement on virtually every issue animating the Republican base in 2024. Democrats are dismayed by the message Landry is sending, but some Louisiana conservatives consider these measures as a bold and powerful move as he raises his national profile.

“From about 500 miles away, it certainly looks like it was effective very quickly,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Texas-based Republican strategist who has worked for two congressmen and a governor. “He has taken over and the potential is really high. »

FILE – Workers repaint a Ten Commandments billboard on Interstate 71 on Election Day near Chenoweth, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

“Repressed Republican political preferences”

When Landry entered the office in Januaryhe did so while the Republicans had obtained every statewide elected office for the first time in almost a decade.

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

Although Landry has not indicated whether he would sign the castration bill authorized by Democrats, many Republicans and several Democrats have supported it.

GOP counterparts, in turn, have often praised the former state attorney general and former congressman.

FILE -The Governor of Louisiana.  Jeff Landry signs bills related to his education plan on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Louisiana became the first state to require the Ten Commandments to be displayed in all public school classrooms, the latest move by a legislature dominated by the Republican Party and pushing a conservative agenda under the leadership of a new governor.  (Brad Bowie/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, file)

FILE -The Governor of Louisiana. Jeff Landry signs bills related to his education plan on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, Louisiana. (Brad Bowie/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP, file)

“It certainly gives you hope that your efforts will be productive when you have a governor who you know where he stands on things and who also knows that there’s a good chance he’ll sign them,” said the interim state spokesperson. Michael T. Johnson.

Johnson, who was elected to the House in 2019, described Landry as easy to work with, transparent and a leader who he said will “move the state forward.” He added that the session was “more productive” because there were “clear, organized goals that we were trying to achieve.”

“I think what you’ve seen in this last legislative session is pent-up Republican policy preferences,” said Robert Hogan, professor and chair of the political science department at Louisiana State University. “They opened the floodgates and it started pouring in, and a lot of them were very successful. »

Across the aisle, Democrats frequently denounced Landry’s efforts and the pace at which bills were being passed, sometimes with little public reaction.

The LGBTQ+ community, which had an ally in the governor’s mansion for eight years, has become one of Landry’s harshest critics.

“It’s definitely a different climate here in the Legislature, especially with Gov. Landry prioritizing these very harmful bills, push them through very fast and making it very difficult and uncomfortable to be here,” SarahJane Guidry, executive director of the LGBTQ+ rights group Forum for Equality, said in an interview during the session.

FILE - Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry speaks during a news conference to discuss his decision to veto House Bill 423, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Republican governor.  Jeff Landry implemented a vast conservative agenda in just six months of work.  (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP, file)

Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry speaks during a press conference to discuss his decision to veto House Bill 423, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Red, Louisiana. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP, file)

Louisiana’s recent political change was at times pushed back by the former governor. John Bel Edwardswho was unable to immediately run again due to term limits.

Edwards, the Deep South’s only Democratic governor during his two terms, sought for eight years to steer the state toward more democratic paths by Medical help coverage, membership climate change initiatives And Veto on certain measures which Landry has since signed into law.

Many voters, however, seemed ready for the change Landry brought. He won the election with 52% of the vote, erasing the Democratic runner-up’s 26%.

Although not everyone wanted Landry for the job, many agree that he kept his campaign promises – whether they support the policies or not.

“I’m not surprised at all, it’s exactly what I expected when he became governor,” said Chris Dier, a high school teacher in New Orleans who opposed numerous Landry initiatives. “I think a lot of the conversations even before he became governor were about how we respond to certain pieces of legislation when they pass.”

Are you considering a bigger stage?

In the age of Trump-era conservatives, some believe Landry could follow in the footsteps of other high-profile governors — becoming a national figure or running for higher office. His eagerness to enact unique legislation, his willingness to choose and participate in national battles, and his tendency to court media coverage echo tactics employed by other politicians rising to the national stage.

Pearson Cross, professor of political science at the University of Louisiana, points the finger at the Texas governor. Greg Abbott and the governor of Florida. Ron DeSantis as an example of what Landry could do.

“I think Jeff Landry is very comfortable with this kind of profile. I think he feels like he’s standing up for the state and representing his constituents who are generally conservative — and maybe standing up to the excesses of the federal government,” Cross said.

Like Abbott, Landry served as the state’s attorney general for years before becoming governor. Like DeSantis, he also spent time in the United States House of Representatives, but with a much shorter term.

But Landry, whose office declined an interview request from The Associated Press, has given little indication of his future aspirations.

He recently joined Abbott and other Republican governors in Eagle Pass, a Texas town that has become the at the center of a turf war on immigration enforcement, to discuss the border crisis. He also headlined the Republican Party of Tennessee’s annual fundraising dinner in Nashville last weekend.

He also signed a bill that hides details of his schedule and/or that of his wife or children from public records for security reasons. While it’s not unusual, opponents say the law will be used to hide who Landry meets and where he goes.

Meanwhile, discussions at the state Capitol revolve around whether Landry could be offered a cabinet position if Trump wins the presidential election in the fall. Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign team, said there had been no discussions about who would serve in the administration. But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating.

“I think he has that (national recognition) and as it helps our state, I’m certainly happy about it, but I don’t want it to force him to leave for a cabinet position,” Johnson said. “However, I think Louisiana has a lot to offer, and if he can be an ambassador on a national level, I think that’s absolutely positive.”

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