In a surprise showing on Saturday, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry won the Louisiana governor’s race outright, securing 51.6% of the vote in a 15-way all-party primary and avoiding what seemed like a probable runoff next month.

The win means that Republicans have reclaimed the Louisiana governor’s mansion after losing it to centrist Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in 2015. This was long viewed as the easiest pickup opportunity among the trio of 2023 odd-year gubernatorial races, with the popular Edwards term-limited.

As we’ve seen in other recent contests, the appeal of a unique governor who is able to transcend the political spectrum is limited when that candidate isn’t on the ballot. In 2022, Republicans lost open contests in deep blue Maryland and Massachusetts after their popular moderate GOP incumbents didn’t run again. That trend held true here, where Wilson lacked the political skills, name recognition and campaign infrastructure to break through with Republican voters as Edwards did in 2015 and 2019.

Both Republican and Democratic strategists and operatives we talked to ahead of the primary told

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