With current Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards’ last term drawing to a close, several candidates are campaigning for their chance at the seat and early voting has already begun. 

Though 15 candidates are in the running, the two front-runners from America’s main political parties are Republican Jeff Landry and Democrat Shawn Wilson.

An open primary election will be held on Oct. 14, in which all candidates regardless of party affiliation will run against each other. 

A candidate can win by receiving more than 50% of the vote, but if no candidate manages to do this, the top two will run against each other in a general election that would be held on Nov. 18.

Landry, who currently serves as Louisiana’s Attorney General, is endorsed by the Republican Party of Louisiana, as well as many prominent conservative figures, including former president Donald Trump. Though many Republicans are in the running, he’s remained the most prominent.

Landry has received attention for his support of Louisiana’s abortion ban, the banning of gender-affirming care for youths and a bill restricting youths’ access to books deemed “sexually explicit,” which critics have said will target books with LGBTQ+ themes.

His website also shares his positions during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating, “When faced with elementary school mask mandates and forced COVID vaccinations on school children, Jeff Landry stood strong, defending children and protecting parents’ rights from the “woke” mob.”

He also referred to climate change as a “hoax” at a press conference about coastal wetlands problems in 2018.

Additionally, Landry supports cutting taxes and regulations on businesses, expanding broadband internet access, holding insurance companies more accountable and “modernizing” Louisiana’s constitution, which he states on his website “clearly stands in the way of efforts to enact many crucial reforms Louisiana desperately needs.”

Wilson, who served as the secretary of Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development under Edwards, is the only major Democrat in the election, and is endorsed by Edwards and the Democratic Party of Louisiana.

Wilson supports the raising of wages, closing the gender wage gap, working with businesses to prevent discrimination in the workforce, the expansion of free school lunches, protecting TOPS, continuing to expand Medicaid and investing in Louisiana’s infrastructure, amongst other issues.

He also breaks slightly from Edwards on abortion. While Edwards ran on a pro-life platform, which many credit as helping him win the election, Wilson appears more to the left. 

Although Wilson hasn’t explicitly referred to himself as pro-choice, he does support adding exceptions to cases of rape or incest into Louisiana’s anti-abortion law.

Wison has also stated that the issue shouldn’t be up to legislature.

“It’s not the place of the legislature to come between a doctor and a woman, whether it’s cancer, diabetes, or maternal health. Those are the facts, pro-choice or pro-life,” Wilson said.

Wilson has also stated his support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month on Twitter.

“This is a month for all to have pride, no matter what your gender identity, sexuality, or preferred pronouns are. I support our LGBTQ+ community and as Governor I will work to ensure that every Louisianan finds equality and fairness in their pursuit of opportunity in our state,” Wilson tweeted.

Polling by Gray Media and Mason-Dixon Polling Strategy has shown that the candidates trailing Landry and Wilson, many of whom are conservative, haven’t even been able to get their name out there and recognizable by most voters over the course of the election campaign. 

That polling also projected 40% of people would vote for Landry, 24% would vote for Wilson and only 9% for the next most popular candidate Republican Steve Waguespack.

In addition to selecting the governor, on Oct. 14, voters in Lafayette parish will be voting for mayor-president, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, representatives for the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, state senators and representatives, a district judge, assessor, parish and city council members and members of school board.

Voters will also vote yes or no on four state constitutional amendments.

These amendments deal with issues regarding property and taxes, spending and finance, whether donations from a foreign government or nongovernmental source can be used in an election and if the state constitution should state “the freedom to worship in a church or other place of worship is a fundamental right that is worthy of the highest order of protection.”