BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Among the seven major candidates for governor, State Rep. Richard Nelson brings a moderate Republican approach to the crowded field.
“If Louisiana were just average, we’d all live four years longer and get a 33% raise,” Nelson said.
It is a phrase he has brought out at nearly every campaign stop. The young moderate Republican has hinged his message on financial issues to help tackle Louisiana’s top problems.
“Let’s build a structure, especially around the tax code that will attract businesses, that will attract people here,” Nelson said.
In his four years in the legislature, Nelson sponsored bills aimed at helping get children on reading level. He said of the things the legislature invests in, the younger generation is the most important.
“So the handouts we give out to corporations or special interests, look at the reports and the analysis of it. We don’t get a very good return on investment,” Nelson said.
He wants to work on getting incarcerated people educated too, to keep them from winding up back in prison when they get out. Another way to tackle crime, he said, is more officers.
“You’re not going to be able to get crime under control when you have historically low levels of police,” Nelson said.
As one of the more moderate Republicans in the statehouse, Nelson has pushed for sweeping changes such as legalizing marijuana and doing away with the income tax. On the wedge issues that took the spotlight of the legislative session, Nelson is against them overall.
“I mean, it really doesn’t teach a kid to read, doesn’t pay for a road, doesn’t give anybody affordable insurance,” Nelson said. “And it really sucked a lot of air out of our legislative session.”
Nelson did vote in favor of the ban on gender-affirming care for minors and to override the governor’s veto. He is against the state’s version of the Don’t Say Gay bill and the bill that failed to pass this year about using preferred pronouns in the classroom.
He identifies as pro-life and has previously voted to add exceptions for rape and incest to the state’s abortion ban. He intends to continue that support if elected governor.
While he hasn’t taken many public swipes at his opponents, Nelson isn’t afraid to call out the policies created by Huey Long.
“We have significant challenges. Many of these have been around for 100 years. I go back to Huey Long, (it’s) really setting up this system that is very centralized in Baton Rouge,” Nelson said.
As he looks to take the middle lane in this race, he brings his big reform plans on the budget, insurance, and how politics are run on the fourth floor.
“If it was LSU football and we were losing to every team every year we would fire the coach, we would fire the mascot, we’d fire everybody. But in Louisiana, we keep sending the same politicians running the same plays every year.”
The primary is on Oct. 14. The general election will be on Nov. 18.