Nancy Landry runs away with Louisiana secretary of state race

By: - November 18, 2023 8:32 pm
Nancy Landry superimposed over a drone photo of the Louisiana Capitol

Louisiana Illuminator illustration

Projections call for Republican Nancy Landry to defeat Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup in the race for Louisiana secretary of state.

Landry, who is not related to Gov.-elect Jeff Landry, was widely expected to run away with a win in Saturday’s general election. As of 8:30 p.m., she had received 68% of the vote to Collins-Greenup’s 32%. 

The candidates were closely matched with roughly 19% each in October’s primary election, when a third of the Republican vote was split among a crowded field of GOP candidates that included Public Service Commissioner Mike Francis and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. 

Landry, a former state lawmaker from Lafayette, has served as first assistant and second in command to Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, who chose not to seek reelection, since 2019. 

Collins-Greenup is a Baton Rouge attorney and accountant who previously ran for the office in 2018. She surprised Louisiana’s political establishment when she earned a spot in the runoff that year against Ardoin, who was interim secretary of state at the time. 

Landry will take over an office that has recently come under pressure and scrutiny from far-right election conspiracy theorists, one of the reasons Ardoin declined to seek reelection. Like Ardoin, Landry has at times entertained such conspiracies. 

During a Sept. 22 candidate forum the Public Affairs Research Council hosted, Landry acknowledged Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election but stated there were “some very troubling allegations” of voting irregularities in swing states. She offered no specifics or explanations for her claim. 

Aside from managing elections, the secretary of state manages business registrations, the state archives and a handful of museums. The most pressing task for Landry will likely be replacing Louisiana’s aging voting machines, a job that has become unusually difficult as the result of unfounded election conspiracies. 

Ardoin twice tried to purchase new systems for the state to replace its outdated machines. His last attempt in 2021 stalled after election deniers launched a campaign to eliminate the current vendor, Dominion Voting Systems, from the competition. 

Dominion has been the frequent target of skeptics who claimed with no evidence that their machines have been hacked. The company has sued Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, for making false claims about its voting machines and reached a $787 million settlement with Fox News for similar disproven reports.   

Ardoin eventually turned on the conspiracy crowd when he decided not to seek reelection. 

“I hope that Louisianans of all political persuasions will stand against the pervasive lies that have eroded trust in our elections by using conspiracies so far-fetched that they belong in a work of fiction,” Ardoin said in a statement. “The vast majority of Louisiana’s voters know that our elections are secure and accurate, and it is shameful and outright dangerous that a small minority of vocal individuals have chosen to denigrate the hard work of our election staff and spread unproven falsehoods.”

The Louisiana Legislature approved a law that requires the state to use electronic voting machines that produce some kind of paper trail. Examples would be a hybrid, such as a machine-marked paper ballots or hand-marked paper ballots with machine scanners

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. Since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at WAFB/CBS, the Sun Herald and the Enterprise-Journal, winning awards from the SPJ, Associated Press, Mississippi Press Association and McClatchy. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Muller is a New Orleans native, Jesuit High School alumnus, University of New Orleans alumnus and a U.S. Army veteran and former paratrooper. He lives in Southeast Louisiana with his two sons and wife.