It is important that the GOP national chairperson gets his act together. It is also crucial that the Republican Party in its entirety gets ready for 2024. Please start to hire consultants who want to win first, and make money second. The fact is, there are many states where the party infrastructure has not improved.
Louisiana is witness to a civil war between Republican politicians and the state party, over (very early) endorsements of one candidate over another for governor.
Louisiana is a jungle state. This means that everyone is on the list and, if no one wins more than 50 percent in the general election the top two vote-getters regardless of party advance to a runoff one month later. There is no party primary, despite efforts to make it happen in the state legislature. The brutal party infighting in the Bayou State can lead to bizarre things, such as a Democratic Governor being elected twice.
Former U.S. Senator David Vitter ran for governor in 2015. Former U.S. Senator David Vitter ran to be governor in 2015. Vitter’s personal history had some problems, which John Bel Edwards exploited to his disadvantage. Vitter lost. Two other Republicans in the race attacked Vitter more than Edwards and refused to endorse Vitter following the general election. Former Lt. Jay Dardenne, a former Lieutenant Governor, actually supported Edwards in return for a top position in Edwards’ government.
Ralph Abraham, a former congressman, ran against Edwards four years later. Eddie Rispone (a millionaire and long-time GOP donor) was also in the race. He declared his candidacy. Rispone spent a lot of money on ads that attacked Abraham, a well-liked Republican. After having dealt with infighting four years back, the Louisiana GOP condemned the attack but did nothing else. Rispone then continued.
It was a disastrous strategy. Rispone was defeated by Edwards in the run-off, and Abraham was eliminated. Due to the misleading and unfair attacks on Abraham, a large portion of Abraham’s congressional districts voted against Edwards or didn’t vote.
Edwards has effectively been reelected twice thanks to Republican infighting.
Louisiana is once again an election year. The LAGOP decided to jump on the opportunity to support a horse early. Donald Trump Jr. and several Louisiana Congressmen endorsed Attorney General Jeff Landry as a conservative fighter. He announced that he would be running before the midterm elections.
There were rumors of other candidates considering running but Landry was the first to go. Landry’s team began to work to convince the state party to possibly put together an early endorsement. They succeeded.
However, several other Republicans who had planned on jumping in the race were furious at the state GOP for making an endorsement before all the candidates were in. But those candidates were still months away from declaring, especially considering that both of Louisiana’s U.S. Senators, Bill Cassidy, and John Kennedy, were also rumored to be looking at jumping in.
Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser.
Nungesser had sent the contact information of the top state GOP officials to his supporters when the endorsement was first made public. It seemed like he wanted them to call him and ask questions. On Thursday, Nungesser again attacked the state GOP chairman Louis Gurvich. He demanded Gurvich’s resignation.
“He is a disgrace to the Republican Party. He is a disgrace to Louisiana. Nungesser stated that he should resign. Gurvich and the LAGOP published a column asking Congressman Garret Graves to refrain from entering the race. He was expected to do so this week.
Nungesser stated, “So now, with Garret Graves’ thought of running, they’re calling again.” “I received three calls last night. They’re back to their old threats and promises, whatever it takes to browbeat them.”
Nungesser was expected to announce the gubernatorial election this year. However, Nungesser decided to run for reelection as Lt. Governor instead. State treasurer John Schroder and Sharon Hewitt are the remaining Republicans who are running for governor.
The Democrats have not yet put forward anyone to replace Edwards. However, there is talk that Dr. Shawn Wilson (his transportation secretary) is considering running, and Katie Bernhardt, the state Democratic chairperson.
Although I cannot fault the state GOP for supporting Landry so early, I don’t think it is unfair. He is the second most popular Republican elected in the state (the other being Sen. Kennedy) and has the largest war chest. He has been a prominent figure, fighting on the frontlines of the culture war as well as several important legal battles between the Biden administration and the states. Landry is a favorite of conservatives across the state.
While I understand Landry’s frustrations, they still had the chance to run for the race and work on endorsements and support. They didn’t, and they lost. Their personal ambitions drive them to continue with their campaigns. They are more concerned with achieving what they believe they have earned than about principles.
The problem is that up to this point, the LAGOP was very hands-off in terms of candidate recruitment. Although they managed to get money and support to where it was needed, they didn’t do enough to stop the infighting and negativity that led to the party losing its last two gubernatorial races. They don’t have the authority they want in the state.
This is something that we are seeing at both the state and national levels of the GOP. Politicians don’t respect the party structure. It is no surprise that they are having trouble right now.