WASHINGTON — Former U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry is staying in the political spotlight by launching a conservative super PAC on Tuesday to help support more far-right Republicans in congressional races nationally and in Louisiana.
Landry’s new “Restore our Republic” political action committee comes a few months after the one-term congressman’s defeat in a congressional race against U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, and while Landry, R-New Iberia, was mulling challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in 2014.
While Landry said Tuesday he is “not ruling out anything,” he also said he plans to make the super PAC a priority and that it will give him more opportunities to travel nationally and have his message heard while supporting other congressional candidates.
“It’s something I think that can bring a lot of benefit to Republicans in this country,” Landry said Tuesday in a phone interview. “We seem to be struggling as to who we are inside the Republican Party.”
Landry often touts scoring among the most conservative members of Congress through his voting record. He is very much in the camp that the party does not “need to reinvent itself” and that it must reaffirm its conservative principles.
“I’m very excited,” Landry said, arguing that the Super PAC will give him a strong opportunity to keep his voice in the “conservative movement.”
Landry was part of the group of House Republicans aligned with the tea party movement that unsuccessfully sought to oust John Boehner, R-Ohio, as the U.S. House speaker.
Landry is not commenting on specific candidates. But he said he does intend for his super PAC to be a player in the 6th Congressional District race that is opening up because U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, is challenging Landrieu’s re-election.
The Super PAC would be able to accept unlimited donations and commit to unlimited levels of spending for candidates, not counting Landry, as long as Restore our Republic does not communicate or collaborate with the congressional campaigns.
“In today’s political environment, it is not enough to support candidates who espouse conservative ideas,” Landry said in his announcement. “Restore our Republic will look for freedom-loving candidates who have the courage and conviction to stand up for conservative principles even when the pressure is great.”
Pearson Cross, political science department chairman for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said the new path for Landry makes it pretty clear he will not challenge Landrieu, as Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and other GOP powerbrokers try to clear the deck for Cassidy as Landrieu’s chief opponent.
“There are strong forces to keep him (Landry) from running against Mary Landrieu,” Cross said.
But, he said, Landry may again eye the U.S. Senate after 2015 if Vitter runs for and wins the Governor’s Office.
“Politically, it’s a smart move,” Cross said. “The real question is how many zeroes can he put in the bank account. What’s his sway?”
Landry proved he can bring in dollars in his congressional race last year by raising more than $2.3 million, according to federal election records. But he was outpaced by Boustany, who brought in close to $4.5 million in the most expensive U.S. House race in state history.
With his new super PAC, Landry is working with Nachama Soloveichik, who previously worked for the conservative super PAC the Club for Growth.
The only remaining vocal Republican thorn in Cassidy’s side for the 2014 Senate race is state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, who last week criticized the behind-the-scenes machinations to ensure multiple Republicans are not running against Landrieu. But Roemer, who is the son of former Gov. Buddy Roemer, could instead run for the 6th Congressional District seat to replace Cassidy.