Former congressman running for state attorney general

Former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry announced Monday that he would run for Louisiana attorney general in fall 2015 elections.

Landry, a lawyer, will challenge fellow Republican Buddy Caldwell for the state’s top legal job. “He’s definitely not pro-business and definitely not conservative,” Landry said of Caldwell.

Having a conservative governor and attorney general will be important at a time when Louisiana is primed for an energy boom that the state has not seen since the 1970s, Landry said.

Landry’s entry into the race sparked an immediate positive response from Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter via his Twitter account.

Vitter, who has announced he’ll run for governor, tweeted: “Jeff Landry is a strong, solid conservative. As a veteran, law enforcement officer, attorney and lawmaker, he would be a very qualified AG.”

Landry said he had a lot of encouragement from people of all walks of life who wanted to see him run.

“I tested the appetite out there of the donors. We got a very positive and strong response,” Landry said. “We are not going to be releasing our campaign numbers anytime soon. But it’s far in excess of the amount both Caldwell and another candidate raised (last year).”

Caldwell raised more than $57,000 in campaign contributions in 2013. He currently has a war chest of $410,938, according to a recent campaign finance report filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics. The other announced candidate — attorney Marty Maley, of Port Allen — reported raising $16,500 last year. He, too, is a Republican.

Landry’s campaign committee — Landry for Louisiana — did not have to file a 2013 report because he did not raise any money in 2013 for the race. He registered the committee in January indicating he would seek a statewide office.

Caldwell did not respond to requests for an interview, instead issuing a statement through his office.

“I am proud of our accomplishments, which include vigorously defending the state from frivolous lawsuits, prosecuting child predators and corrupt elected officials, and recovering hundreds of millions of dollars from those who have defrauded the Louisiana Medicaid program,” Caldwell said. “We have restored the credibility and integrity to the office of Attorney General. I look forward to continuing to represent the citizens of Louisiana.”

Communications chief Leo Honeycutt said Caldwell was in Washington, D.C., attending the National Association of Attorneys General winter meeting.

Landry is a Desert Storm veteran; a former sheriff’s deputy and policeman; a father, husband and small-businessman.

He lost his congressional seat when redistricting forced him to run for re-election against fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, who won in 2012.

“Louisiana’s next attorney general not only needs to operate the office in a fiscally responsible and professional manner, our next attorney general also needs to be an advocate for the citizens of Louisiana,” Landry said in a news release.

“Time and time again we are seeing major public policy decisions driven into our courts both with expensive mandates from Washington bureaucrats to other issues here at home. I look forward to putting my proven conservative principles to work for the people of Louisiana as our next attorney general,” Landry added.

Landry launched the conservative Restore our Republic political action committee in the spring to help support more far-right Republicans in congressional races nationally and in Louisiana. The super PAC is able to accept unlimited donations and spend unlimited amounts on candidates as long as the group does not coordinate with the candidate’s political campaign.

Landry said the PAC is currently registered only to do federal work.