Landry, a Republican from New Iberia who has built a political career with the help of tea party advocates, has been hinting at a bid for months. At the same time he also has become highly critical of Caldwell, particularly on the issue of contingency fee contracts and the lawsuit filed by a New Orleans-area levee board against 97 energy companies.
The issue has helped Landry build stronger ties with the oil and gas industry, which in turn is expected to show up in his campaign finances. But those figures will not be made available for another year.
“He would definitely get a lot of support,” said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “He’s the last guy I’d want to run against because he is so tenacious. He’s a bulldog.”
Landry only just formed his campaign for attorney general on paper, filing a statement of organization with the Ethics Administration on Jan. 23.
But since then, Landry has actively been raising money.
“Jeff has already received a tremendous amount of commitments and support from people who are standing behind him in this race,” said Brent Littlefield, Landry’s chief consultant.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, who has sided with Landry in past elections, almost immediately offered encouraging words via Twitter. He called Landry a “strong, solid conservative” who would make a “very qualified AG.”
Within moments, Landry’s campaign had a response on behalf of the candidate: “I want to thank Senator David Vitter for his kind words regarding my announcement today. Senator Vitter has been a tireless advocate for Louisiana and our conservative principles.”
It’s a clear signal that Vitter, who is running for governor, may be building a ticket for the 2015 ballot. If so, the next question becomes whether the super PAC created to back Vitter, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, will support those candidates as well.
Landry created his own super PAC last year, too, called Restore Our Republic, but it’s confined to federal races only. Moreover, Landry’s connection to the super PAC would prohibit it from spending money in any race where he’s a candidate.
If one is to believe the rumors that have been making the rounds leading up to last week’s Washington Mardi Gras events, Treasurer John Kennedy has a part to play in all of this, whether as a candidate for governor or attorney general.
LaPolitics reported in January that Kennedy has already begun telling friends and supporters he would run for governor. But now there’s a whisper campaign suggesting the treasurer is keeping his options open with an eye to possibly entering the AG field.
While sources say they’re just that—rumors—Kennedy did run for attorney general in 1991 and publicly considered the position in 2007. Some politicos believe that the AG spot has always been the “prize denied” to the treasurer, who has nearly $3 million in the bank, enough to cash to run for any office Louisiana has to offer.
As for Caldwell and the whispers he generated at D.C. Mardi Gras over the weekend, conservative operatives are already trying to make hay over his appearance at the hospitality suite sponsored by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, where he dished up his annual karaoke Elvis impersonation. Performing as Memphis’ favorite son is one thing, but operatives say partying with a Democrat, when you’re a former Dem running as a Republican, is another.