BATON ROUGE (AP) — After much speculation, Republican Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has confirmed that he plans to join the wide-open 2023 race to succeed Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Nungesser, who has long been considered likely to throw his hat into the gubernatorial race, addressed the rumors during a visit to Lake Providence on Tuesday, WAFB-9 reported.

“I am planning on running,” Nungesser said. “I want to get through the midterm elections, and I’ve got a lot of work to do before the end of the year. And the minute I announce, I won’t be spending tax dollars advertising tourism with me.”

Louisiana is the rare conservative state to have a Democratic governor. The moderate Edwards won hard-fought races in 2015 and 2019, but he is unable to seek a third consecutive term due to term limits. That means 2023 is a huge opportunity for Republicans to take control of the state that voted for Donald Trump by wide margins in the past two presidential contests.

Nungesser said he plans to hit the campaign trail in January 2023. He has spent more than 15 years building his political resume, serving two four-year terms as president of the Plaquemines Parish Commission before being elected to his current position in 2015. He was reelected to a second term as lieutenant governor in 2019.

As lieutenant governor, which is the second-highest elected state position, Nungesser oversees the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Individuals who held the office in the past used it as a stepping stone to governor.

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While the gubernatorial race is still a more than a year away, a list of politicians interested in the position is slowly growing.

In January, Louisiana Republican Treasurer John Schroder told supporters in January that he plans on running for governor. Attorney General Jeff Landry, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy — all Republicans — are also possible candidates.

New Orleans City Council President Helena Moreno recently emerged as a possible Democratic candidate.