WASHINGTON, D.C. (KSLA) - U.S. Sen. John Kennedy announced Monday that he will not run for governor in 2019, ending months of mulling and outside speculation about a possible bid for the governor’s mansion.
“I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2019. I will, however, continue to work hard every day in D.C. and Louisiana,” said Kennedy in a statement.
“I hope someone runs for Governor who understands that Louisiana state government does not have to be a big, slow, dumb, wasteful, sometimes corrupt, spend-money-like-it-was-ditchwater, anti-taxpayer, top down institution,” he added.
Kennedy, almost two years into his first term as a Senator, has been a frequent critic of Gov. John Bel Edwards and has previously called for the governor to resign. The Republican Senator has said for months that he was thinking about mounting a challenge to Edwards, a Democrat. Instead, he’s opting to remain in the Senate, where his unique and quotable legislative style has helped him make a name for himself.
“It is such an honor to represent the people of Louisiana in the United States Senate. Right now, that’s where I think I can do the most good," said Kennedy.
Edwards released a statement on Monday responding to Kennedy’s decision to stay out of the race.
“For Sen. Kennedy, this was never about the people of Louisiana. This was about focusing the spotlight on himself,” said Edwards.
“Now that this is behind us, my hope is that he will make it a priority to work together with me and the entire congressional delegation.”
The Senator was seemingly on the fence about whether to run as late as last week.
“I’m very torn. I don’t know what I am going to do. It’s such an honor to represent Louisiana in the United States Senate, but my state is in trouble, and I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Kennedy in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday.
Before the announcement, Kennedy’s political opponents were already dealing preemptive strikes to the would-be candidate. Gumbo PAC, a pro-Edwards political action committee, launched an ad last week touting Edwards' accomplishments and chiding Kennedy’s affinity to television interviews.
Another PAC, American Bridge, launched ads and a website on Friday billing Kennedy as “Senator Soundbite,” also a critique on the amount of Kennedy’s one-liner-filled television interviews.
Kennedy, a fixture of Louisiana politics, started his political career in Gov. Roemer’s administration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when he served as special counsel and cabinet secretary. He was the State Treasurer of Louisiana for almost two decades before his election to the Senate in 2016, following two unsuccessful Senate campaigns in 2004 and 2008. His current term expires in 2022.
The only Republican to announce a campaign so far is Eddie Rispone, a businessman from Baton Rouge.