The Louisiana GOP Has Total Control Over State Government, Plans to Immediately Cave to Democrats

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In the 2023 election cycle in Louisiana, conservatives let their voices be heard. It wasn't just a Republican wave in the state last year - it was a decidedly conservative wave. Moderate (read: really Democrat) Republicans were thrashed just as much as actual Democrats were.

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It was a wonderful turn of events for a state that had elected Democrat John Bel Edwards to the governor's mansion in the previous two election cycles. Edwards' own choice of successor, Shawn Wilson, couldn't even make it to a runoff with multiple other Republicans on the ballot (Louisiana is a jungle primary state, meaning all candidates, regardless of party, are on the same ballot).


READ MORE: Louisiana Conservatives Overperformed in Statewide Elections, Beating Democrats and Republicans Alike


But Republicans in Louisiana can be their own worst enemy when it comes to governance. Even while Republicans had majorities in both chambers of the legislature during Edwards' term, they could rarely agree on leadership and committee assignments, and on more than one occasion, Republican leaders picked Democrats to chair committees in the House and Senate.

Still, one would hope that with a supermajority in the legislature and a Republican in the governor's mansion, they wouldn't be handing out power to Democrats like party favors. Louisiana voters made it clear that they wanted Republican leadership - that they wanted conservative leadership - and, apparently, the first thing they want to do is put Democrats in charge of legislative committees.

This time, Republicans are set on Monday to elevate Landry’s choices to the top two positions in Legislature, Sen. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, as the president, and Rep. Phillip DeVillier, R-Eunice, as the speaker.

Republicans hold a 73-32 advantage over Democrats in the House and a 28-11 margin in the Senate.

Despite the big partisan advantage, both Henry and DeVillier have said in interviews that they plan to give committee chairmanships to Democrats, a move that will likely spark protests among hard core conservatives who want the incoming leaders to follow Washington’s practice of the majority party consolidating its power.

“I found Democrats who I think would be good chairmen based on their skillset,” Henry said.

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You know, much like New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen saying "My players didn't listen to me when I told them not to run a fake victory formation at the end of the game," I don't think I'd have said that out loud, Senator Henry.

Republicans across the country have this really bad habit of negotiating from the position they want to end up in rather than negotiating from the farthest reaches of their platform. If the Democrats want seats, you have to make them concede something for it. You don't just come out and say "Well, since you asked nicely, here you go!" That's just handing away power that voters gave to you. 

It's frankly not too shocking that Henry, a New Orleans Republican, and DeVillier, who was a concession candidate for Speaker, would be so eager to say that they'll welcome Democrats into leadership spots. They each want to run a ship that's known for "Getting Things Done" and is free of partisan drama. It's all about being liked by the state media because they don't want to be the subject of hit pieces.

That's how squishes operate, and that's what has to be going on here, because there's no voter demand for it. Democrats barely turned out at all. They didn't care about governing. Republicans won decisively - clearly, voters want Republican governance.

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I know Gov. Jeff Landry is a solid conservative, and I know he wields a lot of respect among his Republican peers in state government. He was behind the party consolidating behind Henry and DeVillier as top leaders in the legislature. I hope he'll talk to them about this, because Louisiana can't afford any more setbacks.

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