State Sen. Sharon Hewitt announced Friday that she is running to become Louisiana’s Governor, making her the third Republican to enter this year’s race.
Hewitt, an engineer and a former oil and gas executive, was first elected to the legislature in 2015. She joins State Treasurer John Schroder and Attorney General Jeff Landry among the major candidates to have entered the contest to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
Although the state Legislature is dominated by Republicans, Louisiana is the only Deep South state with a Democrat for Governor, opening a huge opportunity for the GOP hoping to take hold of the position. With nine months to go until the election, no Democrats have entered the race yet.
Hewitt is hoping to become the second female Governor in state history and has highlighted her experience holding leadership roles in historically male-dominated roles. The Slidell resident was one of the first women to work on an offshore drilling rig and became one of the first female executives in a major oil and gas company, Shell.
Hewitt currently serves as chair of the Republican Legislative Delegation and chair of the Senate and Government Affairs Committee.
“Politicians have failed our state for decades, saddling us with a failing tax code, struggling schools, and rising crime in our cities,” Hewitt said in a statement. “It’s time for a Governor who will get things done. That’s why I’m running to lead this great state I love.”
Under Louisiana’s “jungle” primary system, all candidates — regardless of party affiliation — will run against one another on the same ballot Oct. 14. If no candidate tops 50%, the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on Nov. 18.
Schroder served nearly 10 years as a state representative in Louisiana, before being elected to state treasurer. Prior to his time at the Capitol, Schroder was a narcotics detective and served as a criminal investigation division special agent in the U.S. Army.
Landry announced his gubernatorial bid in October and has already amassed $5 million in cash on hand for his campaign, according to his longtime political consultant Brent Littlefield. The conservative Republican and staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump received an early endorsement from the Louisiana Republican Party — an announcement that sparked outrage from potential candidates who had yet to officially throw their hats into the ring.
U.S. Rep. Garret Graves and state Rep. Richard Nelson, both Republican, have indicated they are also considering the contest.
It remains unclear who will emerge as a Democratic candidate, but Shawn Wilson, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, and Katie Bernhardt, chair of the state Democratic Party, are considered possible contenders.
Hunter Lundy, a Lake Charles small-business owner and attorney, has entered the race as an independent.
The highly anticipated Governor’s race has been closely watched by many, both in the state and in the nation’s capital. Mississippi and Kentucky are the only other states electing governors this year.
One politician who seriously considered entering the Louisiana race was U.S. Sen. John Kennedy. However, the Republican announced last week that he would not run, saying, “I just think I can help my state and my country more in the Senate.” Similarly, GOP U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy said he was opting to focus on his role in Congress.
In a leaked press release this week, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser said that he would seek reelection instead of running for Governor — a surprise to political observers who saw the Republican as a more moderate candidate. The announcement was especially surprising as Nungesser had previously told reporters he “has to run” for Governor if Kennedy didn’t, saying Landry is “not a good person.”
Following the leaked press release, Nungesser told The Advocate that it was a “tough decision” but he feels obligated to continue working on tourism issues. He also said he thinks it will be a crowded field and that voters will pick a good candidate. Nungesser did not return the Associated Press’ requests for comment.
Gubernatorial candidates are required to officially submit qualifying papers to the secretary of state between Aug. 8 and Aug. 10.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.