AG candidate Liz Murrill boasts close working relationship with governor-elect
Attorney General candidate Liz Murrill. (Matthew Perschall for Louisiana Illuminator)
Then Attorney General-elect Jeff Landry didn’t think he could afford Liz Murrill.
It was 2015 and Landry, a former congressman, was seeking help with his transition from the state’s conservative legal luminaries. Chief among them was Murrill, who had been former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s executive counsel.
Murrill was brought in for advice, Landry told a group of conservative students at LSU last year, but left with a job, though the pay was less than Landry felt she deserved.
Murrill would help Landry fulfill a campaign promise: to create a solicitor general’s office for the state. While the position does not exist in state law, Murrill does all of the things the state’s most senior practicing attorney is meant to do, primarily representing the state’s interests in court.
It is in this role that Murrill became somewhat of a conservative star who is now on her way to succeed Landry and become the state’s first woman attorney general. In Saturday’s runoff election, Murrill will face Democrat Lindsey Cheek, a late entrant to the race who lags well behind in fundraising. Murrill received 45% of the vote in the Oct. 14 primary, while Cheek pulled just 23%.
Murrill said it would be exciting to be the first woman AG and serve as a role model for younger women.
“It has been a while since we have had any women in statewide office at all, and I think it’s important for younger women to see women in roles they might see for themselves in the future,” Murrill said in an interview with the Illuminator.
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As a mother to four boys, Murrill said she has had to balance her family obligations with her career that has never let up.
Since she graduated from LSU law school in 1991, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Louisiana Law Review, Murrill has held a string of positions. The first was clerking for federal judges, then teaching law at her alma mater, taking a one-year fellowship with the U.S. Supreme Court before returning home in 2008 to serve in Jindal’s administration.
But her legal work is not the center of her universe. Murrill has remained active in her community, serving as a cubmaster for her son’s cub scout pack and taking an active role in her church.
“My family is always at the center of my life,” Murrill said. “Juggling family and work is tough no matter what kind of work you do, but I want women to know it can be done.”
As Landry’s chief deputy, Murrill has taken point on a number of high profile conservative cases, arguing multiple times in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. She defended the state’s strict abortion ban, fought the Biden administration over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and environmental regulations, and she aided Landry in his frequent fights with Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat.
Landry and Edwards, like many attorneys general and governors before them, frequently butted heads. But as Landry’s successor, Murrill anticipates having a more harmonious relationship with her former boss, who has worked behind the scenes to leverage his own supporters to get Murrill elected.
“I expect to have a cooperative relationship with the governor-elect because we share the goals of making our state safer and more economically competitive,” Murrill said.
One legacy Murrill said she doesn’t intend to end is Landry’s challenges of the federal government.
“I will continue to fight federal overreach,” Murrill said during her remarks after qualifying for office. “Defending state sovereignty is what defends us as a separate state and part of the Republic so that we can come up with solutions that are appropriate for our state.”
Even with these high-profile battles, Murrill still considers some of her victories from early in her career among her proudest moments.
In her very first case, she represented the cook at her church on a pro bono basis. She also fought a 12-year battle for another pro bono client to get money back from an unethical lawyer. Both victories shaped her view of the legal profession, she said.
This is the second profile of Louisiana’s attorney general candidates in Saturday’s runoff election. A profile on Murrill’s opponent, Lindsey Cheek, can be read here.
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