By C. Douglas Golden,
Thanks to a party switch last month, Louisiana state House Republicans gained a supermajority in the lower chamber. Now, I guess, they can claim a super-duper-majority?
Whatever the case, yet another state representative has gone from the Democrats to the GOP — the second defection in a month in Louisiana and the third high-profile state-level defection during the same period.
According to The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Rep. Jeremy LaCombe announced Monday that he was hopping parties.
The paper, based in Louisiana’s capital city, said LaCombe didn’t cite any reasons but his defection came “amid a yearslong decline in Democratic electoral fortunes.”
LaCombe was first “elected in 2019 to District 18, spanning parts of Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes,” the report said. (Louisiana refers to what most states call counties as “parishes,” a vestigial remnant of its rule by the Roman Catholic governments of France and Spain.)
“Republicans in the state House recently gained a supermajority – a crucial threshold for overriding vetoes and passing tax measures – because another Democrat, Rep. Francis Thompson of Delhi, switched to the GOP,” The Advocate reported.
Thompson’s defection to the GOP was greeted with a bit more fanfare, as Nola.com noted when reporting the news last month.
“For nearly 50 years, State Rep. Francis Thompson has represented his north Louisiana House district as a conservative Democrat, earning the title of the state’s longest-serving legislator under that party’s banner,” the outlet noted.
“But Thompson said on Friday that he will switch parties and join House Republicans — which would give the GOP 70 House votes if all members vote along party lines, the number needed to override a veto by Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. Republicans already hold a supermajority in the Senate.”
Mind you, Thompson had oft voted with Republicans on issues during his time as a conservative Democrat — and, at a big media shindig at the Louisiana Republican Party headquarters in the state capital, he insisted it wasn’t him that shifted.
“Let me be clear — nothing has changed,” Thompson said. “There are values and principles that I firmly hold onto that guide my decisions. My conservative voting record over the years I have served in the Legislature speaks for itself.”
However, Nola.com also noted the switch “comes amid a broader shift in Louisiana electoral politics, as registered Democrats have fallen off voter rolls in droves.” (“Amid” is apparently a very popular word in Louisianan journalism.)
GOP state Sen. Heather Cloud said Thompson’s decision was “an open invitation for all those Louisianans who don’t know where to go” politically, a “safe landing place” for former Democratic voters who don’t align with the party’s new emphasis on old-school tax-and-spend policies and woke social agendas.
Louisiana House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Sam Jenkins, meanwhile, said in a statement he continued to have faith voters would “join the fight to increase wages, improve education, and hold insurance companies accountable” by electing Democrats in October’s legislative election.
“While Rep. Thompson’s decision is disappointing, it is not surprising,” Jenkins said. “He already caucused with Republicans. Moreover, his decision does not change our focus. Louisiana families are our priority — not party politics.”
And how’s that working out for Democrats? Not well in Louisiana, obviously — and not in another Southern state the Democrats consider a potential ground for pick-ups, either.
Earlier this month, North Carolina Democratic state Rep. Tricia Cotham switched to the GOP, giving Republicans a 72-seat veto-proof majority in the House. As in Louisiana, the GOP in North Carolina already has the veto-proof majority in the Senate.
“I will not be controlled by anyone,” Cotham, a former teacher and principal, said at a media briefing after switching her registration. She added she felt the big-tent atmosphere of the Democratic Party (inasmuch as it ever existed) was gone, given that her fellow Democrats allegedly thought she was a “spy” and a “traitor” and was suspect for using American flag and praying-hands emojis on social media.
North Carolina is a state with a Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, along with the constant (and constantly dashed) hopes that elections for the state legislature and Congress will work out for the Democrats.
They’ve lost two straight Senate races there in 2020 and 2022 that they thought they had a chance of winning. They may have the governor’s seat — for now. But, at least in North Carolina, Republicans are starting to fight back against gubernatorial vetoes, passing a bill just before Cotham’s defection that eliminated a pistol permit system over Cooper’s rejection.
Three defections in three months speak to a trend — one we can only hope grows over time. And if you think these are trivialities, rest assured neither state’s Democratic governor thinks so.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.