Bill Cassidy out of Louisiana governor race; all eyes turn toward John Kennedy
Louisiana Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy won't run for governor in 2023, leaving all eyes on fellow GOP U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to make his decision on the race back home.
Cassidy announced his decision Friday morning as promised, choosing to remain in the Senate to leverage his growing seniority and influence during his second six-year term, which he won in 2020. On Thursday Cassidy announced he will be the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Health Committee.
“When I was elected to the United States Senate, I was given a job to represent the people of Louisiana and serve the United States of America," Cassidy said in a statement. "For the last several years, I have been working on specific legislation that is critical for the future of our state and country. I don’t know if these solutions will pass, but I know they will not pass if I decide to run for another office. I have chosen to remain focused on the job I was sent here to do and to see these efforts through. Therefore, I will not be a candidate for governor.”
In the Senate, Cassidy has crafted a reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker in Washington, one of a handful of senators on either side of the aisle who are able to give traction to stalled legislation.
In 2021 he was among the architects of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package under Democratic President Joe Biden and before that he helped advance the first COVID relief package under former Republican President Donald Trump.
Earlier this year he joined with nine other Republicans and 10 Democrats to create a passable framework for new gun safety laws, the most significant gun legislation in 30 years.
"I came here to get things done," Cassidy said in a previous interview with USA Today Network.
But Cassidy also angered many of his Republican constituents when he was one of six Senate Republicans to join all 50 Democrats voting to convict Trump in the former president's 2021 impeachment trial for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.
Cassidy has repeatedly said he is "at peace" with his vote to convict Trump, while acknowledging it was unpopular with many Republicans.
Cassidy's decision to remain in the Senate will shift the attention to Kennedy in a governor's race where Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry has already announced he is running. Landry secured an early endorsement from the state Republican Party.
On Monday Kennedy said he is giving "serious consideration" to entering the 2023 governor's race and released a poll he commissioned showing him far ahead of a potentially crowded GOP field.
Kennedy's announcement came less than a week after he won reelection to a second six-year term in the Senate in a landslide with 62%.
“I’ve spent my life and career serving the people of Louisiana," Kennedy said in a statement. "Becky and I raised our family here and are so proud to call it home. But we can’t deny that our great state is facing serious challenges. To meet those challenges, Louisiana families deserve a governor who can lead our state and help solve our toughest problems.
"Over the last year, Louisianans have asked me time and time again to come home to serve as governor during these difficult times. Becky and I love the people of Louisiana. We’ve always listened to them, so I am giving serious consideration to entering the governor’s race. I’ll be announcing my decision soon.”
Other statewide elected Republicans who are expected to run for governor are Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and Treasurer John Schroder.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is term-limited and can't run again. No Democrat has yet announced.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.