BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Of the seven major candidates for governor, Stephen Waguespack entered the race last. He hopes he could bring a new perspective to the race.
“I’m the most dangerous outsider there is. I’ve never run for office. I’ve never run for anything. I’m not a career politician. I’ve never been a politician,” Waguespack said.
While the political outsider label has raised some eyebrows, Waguespack wears it like a badge of honor. The former leader of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and an advisor to Governor Bobby Jindal – Waguespack, or Wags, hopped in the race to throw in yet another Republican option for voters.
“Family after family (is) leaving. One time after another, we lose our 20 to 30-year-olds to Texas. We can’t keep losing our people because our quality of life and our way of life leaves with them,” Waguespack said.
Working for LABI, Waguespack has been closely tuned into the budgeting process at the Capitol. He wants to see a change in the process and goes so far as to suggest becoming a bi-annual legislature. He would put the amendment to the voters to decide.
“Let’s have a thoughtful examination of the budget. Let’s do it transparently, and let’s pass a two-year strategic plan for the state,” Waguespack said.
A key focus of his campaign is keeping families from leaving Louisiana. He believes one way to do so is to better educate young people to meet the needs of the workforce. He said early childhood education is critical to start preparing kids to work. With federal funding drying up to fully fund seats for children in early childhood programs, he wants to work out ways to find the money in the state budget.
“We have to be creative with the current funding for me to do it. But I have a high priority in early education. That’s the best chance to get kids on a pathway to success,” Waguespack said.
Funding for education is always a debate at the Capitol and with the half-cent sales tax rolling off soon some are concerned there will be a shortfall. Waguespack believes there is enough money to make the investments and provide tax relief.
“Whether that sales tax rolls off or whether you lower income taxes, instead some type of tax relief that is most impactful for working families is what I want to do,” Waguespack said.
More money for law enforcement is a starting point for how he wants to tackle crime.
“You have to compete with wages. We have to find a way to help law enforcement pay more. We have to back our police officers,” Waguespack said.
As for the insurance climate, Waguespack wants to hold a special session to address adjuster churning and attracting companies to the state with big legal changes.
“If we don’t clean up our legal environment, you will never have the ability to lower some of those premiums. It’s not the end all, be all. It’s not the only solution,” Waguespack said.
He said not only is homeowners insurance an issue, but Louisiana has some of the highest auto insurance rates in the country.
On social issues that are ramping up in Louisiana, Waguespack is in support of the ban on gender-affirming care for minors and restricting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom.
On abortion, he is good with how things are now. From personal experience in his own life and his personal beliefs, he does not believe the law should be opened up any further.
“I think the current exemptions in the law are sufficient, and I don’t I don’t support altering the law,” Waguespack said.
Waguespack hopes he can stand out against the field of Republicans to turn the tide for the state on a number of critical issues.
“This is our moment in time. Take advantage of the economic boom all around us, and let’s change the Louisiana narrative forever,” Waguespack said.
The primary is on Oct. 14. The general election will be on Nov. 18.