BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana voters will get to pick the state’s top lawyer as the seat for attorney general is open since Jeff Landry is running for governor. Five candidates, three Republicans and two Democrats, and vying for the office.
Liz Murrill (R)
Murrill currently serves as the solicitor general, essentially Attorney General Jeff Landry’s right hand woman. She has held that position for the last seven years. During her tenure in the AG’s office, she led a lawsuit against the Biden administration for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors. She’s also assisted on cases regarding censorship on social media and FEMA’s flood insurance rates. Murrill promises to continue similar priorities as Landry should she be elected.
She gained the endorsement of the LAGOP and is holding the biggest war chest of about $1.5 million.
Lindsey Cheek (D)
Cheek is a New Orleans-based lawyer who founded The Cheek Law Firm LLC in 2015. Cheek describes herself as an advocate as she has previously taken on “bad actors” related to Louisiana’s famed Cancer Alley, according to her website. She has served on the Executive Committee of the Louisiana Association for Justice and the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. Before opening her law firm she worked for the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
A month from the election Cheek had $260,000 cash on hand.
Marty Maley (R)
Maley is a prosecutor and civil trial attorney of over 24 years. He’s also worked for 17 years as a staff attorney for the Louisiana District Attorneys Association. Maley promises to uphold second amendment rights, “protect the unborn,” and prevent government overreach.
Maley reported having over $31,000 a month out from the election.
John Stefanski (R)
Stefanski is an attorney from Crowley where he works in his family’s law office. He also has served as a state representative for the last six years. In his time at the legislature, he has put a major focus on increasing penalties for criminals. He has touted laws he passed regarding fentanyl distribution. The Republican has gained support of some district attorneys and sheriffs from across the state.
Stefanski reported having over $620,000 cash on hand a month out from the election.
Perry Walker Terrebonne (D)
Terrebonne is a White Castle trial attorney. He had $516 on hand a month from the election.
What does an attorney general do?
The Republicans in the race have centered their campaigns around crime and going so far to call the attorney general’s office the top law enforcement officer. But the AG, constitutionally, does not have jurisdiction to prosecute. They can, however, assist local district attorneys and law enforcement agencies with investigations.
In the Louisiana Constitution, the attorney general will get involved in a criminal case when there is a request from a district attorney, usually when they need to recuse themselves. The primary duty of the office is to prosecute civil cases. They also protect the state and its departments through lawsuits as well.
Candidates talk about goals if elected
In a forum between the candidates at the Baton Rouge Press Club, the five candidates were asked about their campaigns centering on crime and how they could make effective change with those limitations of the attorney general’s office.
“I want to be a partner. I want to help move cases quicker. And I want to help understand from within the office what’s going on and why we are having these problems,” Stefanski said.
He wants to use AG resources to help locals with cases and investigations.
Murrill disagrees that the office doesn’t have a hand in fighting crime.
“That is an issue of resources of the legislature and of the people of Louisiana… want us to step up and provide more assistance, then we can do that,” Murrill said.
Maley sees changes to crime policies coming down the road from the legislature and wants the AG’s office to be involved.
“We need cooperation. The DAs want our help. The sheriffs want our help. The legislature is beginning to understand there’s going to be a crime session,” Maley said.
On the other side, the Democrats in the race have not made crime their main focal point. Terrebonne said the AG’s office can lend some help to locals.
“The Attorney General could help train police,” Terrebonne said.
Cheek said that while crime is important and the AG must enforce the law, her approach is different.
“There’s a mental health crisis in Louisiana that we need to address from childhood to adulthood,” Cheek said.
Each of the candidates also talked about being legal counsel to the next governor but also keeping checks and balances around any government overreach.
A recent poll by National Research Inc. surveyed 849 likely voters between Sept. 29-Oct. 1 on if the election was held today, who would they vote for for AG. The results showed:
- Murrill: 24%
- Stefanski: 20%
- Cheek: 18%
- Terrebonne: 11%
- Maley: 5%
- Undecided: 22%
Election day for the Louisiana primary is Oct. 14.
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