Though qualifying was scheduled to start Wednesday, Louisiana Republicans will not be signing up this week to run for their party’s state governing body.
At issue is a 1980s state law that requires political parties’ leadership committees to have two members from each state House of Representatives district, one male and one female. Republican lawmakers managed to carve out an exception so the law would only apply to parties with at least 30 percent of the state’s registered voters, meaning it effectively only applied to Democrats.
But the state Republican Party has grown enough so that it no longer fits through the loophole. Republican lawmakers sued to stop enforcement, hoping to use their own plan that does not mandate equal gender representation. It is unclear when elections for the Republican State Central Committee will be held.
“A trial has been scheduled in this matter in April, but we are working diligently with the parties involved to expedite a final resolution before then and will keep everyone advised of our progress,” said Louis Gurvich, chairman of the state Republican Party. “We appreciate the Secretary of State and his staff for their patience on this issue, and we look forward to working with him and the Attorney General to pursue a permanent fix to this unconstitutional statutory overreach.”
Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said Republicans are trying to “prevent women from having an equal voice in their party.” He also noted Republicans’ failure to change the law despite holding a legislative majority.
“The LAGOP isn’t just refusing to give equal representation to women; they’re costing taxpayers countless resources with this frivolous lawsuit,” he said.
Beryl Amedee, vice chair of the Republican Party of Louisiana, said the Republicans’ “genderless approach” is meant to “ensure the most qualified person in the district is allowed to serve.”
“Republican districts are drawn to ensure proportional representation of the growing number of registered Republican voters across Louisiana – not identity politics and forced quotas,” she said.
Qualifying for Democratic leadership is proceeding as normal. Candidates for the Republican parish committees are qualifying at their local clerks of court.
Meanwhile, five Democrats and one Republican qualified for Louisiana’s April 4 presidential preference primary.
Democrats Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang all signed up, as did Republican Rocky De La Fuente.