BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The crowded field of candidates running for Louisiana governor is shrinking, with state Rep. Richard Nelson withdrawing from the race Wednesday and endorsing GOP frontrunner, Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Nelson has trailed far behind others in campaign fundraising and was recently left out of a major-televised debate due to his low polling. He was the youngest major candidate at 37 years old.
“While this was always going to be a difficult race, I am proud of the impact we made with the resources we had," Nelson, a Republican, posted Wednesday morning on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
Nelson is an attorney and biological engineer and spent seven years with the U.S. State Department. He was elected to the state House in 2019. As a lawmaker he has proposed legislation designed to improve literacy and eliminate the state income tax. Nelson was one of two gubernatorial candidates who has said outright that they support adding exceptions in cases of rape and incest to the state's near total abortion ban. The other is Shawn Wilson, the only major Democrat in the race.
Because Nelson opted to run for governor, he is unable to seek reelection in the state Legislature next month. He plans to work in the private sector, a statement from his campaign team said.
Under the state’s “jungle primary” system, candidates of all party affiliations are on the same Oct. 14 ballot. If no candidate tops 50%, the two leading vote recipients advance to a general election Nov. 18.
With the election three and a half weeks away the six major candidates left in the race are GOP state Sen. Sharon Hewitt; Landry, a conservative backed by former President Donald Trump; Hunter Lundy, a Lake Charles-based attorney running as an independent; Republican state Treasurer John Schroder; Stephen Waguespack, the Republican former head of a powerful business group and former senior aide to then-Gov. Bobby Jindal; and Wilson, the former head of Louisiana’s Transportation and Development Department.
Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor currently in the Deep South, is prevented by term limits from seeking reelection, giving Republicans a huge opportunity to win control of the state’s executive branch.