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U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy won't run for Louisiana governor in 2023

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U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy announced Friday that he will not run for Louisiana’s open governorship in 2023.

Cassidy teased his announcement in a routine press call earlier this week, igniting intense speculation about his potential candidacy and a matchup against his U.S. Senate colleague John Kennedy. Less than a week after securing a landslide reelection victory, Kennedy announced on Monday that he was “seriously considering” launching his own gubernatorial bid.

“For the last several years, I have been working on specific legislation that is critical for the future of our state and country,” Cassidy said in a statement. “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.”

Since winning a second Senate term in 2020, Cassidy has made a series of moves that might have made his candidacy appealing to independent voters and Democrats in Louisiana. He was one of only seven Senate Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The vote earned him a censure from the state’s Republican party but won him praise from independents and Democrats.

Months later, Cassidy was part of a small group of Republican Senators who brokered the final deal for President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Act.

On Thursday, Cassidy became the top Republican of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The appointment would have Cassidy leading the panel’s Republican minority as it discusses hot-button issues relating to the nation’s health care and education systems and positions him to spar with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is expected to serve as the committee’s chairman.

“It’s an honor to have this position, not just to have it but to do something with it to serve the people of Louisiana and the United States of America,” Cassidy said in a tweet. “I look forward to securing real solutions for issues facing us all.”

Unlike many other states, Louisiana’s governorship is often considered the pinnacle of achievement for the state’s politicians. The office has traditionally wielded immense power, and conservatives across the state are eager to replace the Democratic Edwards, who is term-limited in 2023, with a Republican.

Attorney General Jeff Landry, a Republican from New Iberia, is the only major party candidate who has officially entered the race. Landry earned an early endorsement from the Louisiana GOP, a move that was criticized as premature by many of the state’s top elected officials and would-be candidates.

Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and state Treasurer John Schroder, both Republicans, have privately indicated to donors and supporters that they also plan to run, but neither has made an official announcement.

Independent Hunter Lundy of Lake Charles also declared his candidacy earlier this year.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.

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