LSU professor resigns after GOP candidate wins Louisiana governor race

A two-year-old Twitter feud has resurfaced now Jeff Landry has won the governor runoff

Amelia Neath
Tuesday 17 October 2023 04:18 EDT
Attorney General Jeff Landry wins the Louisiana governor's race

A professor at Louisiana State University has resigned after he claimed the newly-elected Republican governor of the state already asked the university to fire him.

Robert Mann, 65, who is the chair of Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at the university, has spent his career serving in press roles for regional Democrat politicians.

He took to his X account on Sunday to announce that he had told the dean he would step down from his position at the end of the school year.

“The person who will be governor in January has already asked LSU to fire me. And I have no confidence the leadership of this university would protect the Manship School against a governor’s efforts to punish me and other faculty members,” he said.

“I’ve seen too much cowardice and appeasement from top LSU officials already. That being the case, it’s clearly best to remove myself from the equation to avoid any harm to the school I love.”

Mr Mann is referring to Jeff Landry, 52, who was elected on Saturday as Louisiana’s new governor.

This is the first time that the Republican party have won the governor’s seat in eight years, most recently having Democratic John Bel Edwards in the position, who could not run again due to reaching his term limits.

Mr Edwards was the only Democratic governor in the south, but now Mr Landry, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, has won with more than half the votes cast.

The alleged feud between Mr Landry and the Lousiana professor started in 2021, according to TheDaily Beast, when the pair got into an in-direct Twitter (now X) battle.

In December 2021, Mr Mann tweeted that Mr Landry, who was attorney general for Lousiana at the time, had allegedly sent some “flunkie” to an LSU Faculty Senate meeting to read a letter “attacking COVID vaccines.”

In response to this, Mr Landry tweeted that Mr Mann had attacked the woman, who turned out to be the Assistant Attorney General, by calling her a “flunkie.”

He then followed up to say he spoke to the president of Louisana State University, William Tate and expected accountability for his actions and hoped the university would take “appropriate action.”

“This type of disrespect and dishonesty has no place in our society - especially at our flagship university by a professor,” Mr Landry said.

According to The Daily Beast, Mr Tate allegedly did not condemn or defend Mr Mann’s actions online, but did note that the university was “committed to free and open scholarship and the freedom to debate ideas and principles without interference.”

Mr Landry is the first Republican to be elected as Louisiana governor in eight years

The outlet spoke with Mr Mann on Sunday who allegedly described himself as “the biggest irritant on my campus” to conservative officials like Mr Landry.

“I’m proud of that; I’ve tried to be that,” he told The Daily Beast. “I’ve done it because I have tenure because I’m protected under the First Amendment. But this is not going to be a governor who I think has any respect for that. That’s what’s changed.”

He claimed that after that incident two years ago, he was not punished by LSU, but he claimed they did not reach out to him before they published the statement.

In his retirement announcement on X on Sunday, he claimed he has been making plans to leave for two years.

“The minute that I knew Landry wanted me fired and was willing to call the president to demand it, I knew there would be dark days for LSU if he won,” he said in his announcement.

As well as being a professor at LSU for around 17 years, Mr Mann served as communications director to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, press secretary to Senator John Breaux of Louisiana and press secretary to both Senator Russell Long and Senator Bennett Johnston, all of whom are Democrats.

In an email to The Independent, Mr Mann said he wanted to leave on his “own terms”.

“I’m 65. I might have worked here another two to five years. But the prospect of spending those years constantly watching my back and thinking, “Should I self-censor to protect my department?” was not appealing,” he said in part. “We have a brand-new dean. I view my retirement as a gift to her.”

Mr Landy, before entering the gubernatorial runoff, took the attorney general office for Louisiana in 2016.

He has attracted the spotlight onto himself for his involvement and support for laws in Louisiana that draw much debate and controversy, such as banning gender-affirming medical care and almost all abortions in the state, as well as clashing with President Joe Biden’s policies such as the limit of oil and gas production and COVID vaccine mandates.

The Independent has contacted Mr Landry and Louisiana State University for comment.

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