John Kennedy opts against governor’s race: What’s next?

By: - January 5, 2023 6:00 am
U.S. Senator John Neely Kennedy

U.S. Senator John Kennedy, R-Louisiana. (U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee livestream screen capture)

A lukewarm flirtation from U.S. Sen. John Kennedy with a possible run for Louisiana governor turned cold Wednesday when he announced he would forgo the race. Jeremy Alford with LaPolitics Weekly first reported on the email Kennedy sent to supporters declaring his intention to stay in Washington, D.C.

“I have looked hard into my heart and decided to remain in the Senate and not to run for Governor. Senator and Governor are very different jobs,” Kennedy wrote in the message. “At this juncture, I just think I can help my state and my country more in the Senate.”

Kennedy’s name consistently bubbled up as an outside possibility for the governor’s race until November when the Republican said he would give strong consideration to a candidacy. The only details he would disclose would be that he would make a decision in January. 

In anticipation of Kennedy’s decision, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, also a Republican, recently launched campaign polls to determine how he would fare in a field with or without the U.S. senator. Alford reported Wednesday the results show Nungesser tied with state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, who’s yet to declare he will run for governor, with 23% support, just ahead of announced candidate Attorney General Jeff Landry at 22%.

Treasurer John Schroder, like Nungesser, has said he would wait until Kennedy made his intent clear before deciding whether he would run for governor. The Nungesser poll showed him with a meager 2% support. 

Wilson, a Democrat, has also indicated he will announce this month if he will jump into the governor’s race.

Lake Charles attorney Hunter Lundy is the only other person besides Landry to announce his candidacy, which is considered a longshot at best for the independent.

Alford also dished out tastes from a scoop on a new governor’s race poll Thursday that will explore possible candidates, including Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Katie Bernhardt. She told Alford she was flattered to be included in the independent poll but appeared to play down suggestions that she was considering a run.        

Official qualifying for the governor’s race takes place Aug. 8-10.


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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune |, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.