Louisiana state Rep. Francis Thompson, after nearly 50 years of elective service as a Democrat, switched parties to become a Republican on Friday giving the GOP a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature which gives them the power to override vetoes by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards.
With the switch, Republicans gain a two-thirds, 70-vote supermajority in Louisiana’s House and Senate in a huge win for conservatives, according to CBS affiliate WAFB. Thompson becomes the 70th Republican member in the state House. Today, along with the GOP supermajorities in the legislature, both of the state’s US senators are Republican, along with all but one of the six US representatives.
This is the first time in Louisiana’s roughly 210-year history that Republican lawmakers in Louisiana have had this kind of advantage, according to Newsweek.
Thompson, who is 81, insists that “nothing” has changed in his political stance, although he did acknowledge that he has a “conservative” voting record. He was first elected in 1974, serving 12 years in the Senate and 37 years in the House.
This morning Rep. Francis Thompson is switching from Democrat to Republican giving the R’s a supermajority in the House #lalege #lagov pic.twitter.com/w4Hg1aMPat
— Shannon Heckt (@ShannonHeckt) March 17, 2023
“Let me be clear — Nothing has changed,” Thompson said in a statement. “There are values and principles that I firmly hold onto that guide my decisions. My conservative voting record over my years in the Legislature speaks for itself.”
“The push over the past several years by Democratic leadership on both the national and state level to support certain issues does not align with those values and principles that are a part of my Christian life,” he noted in his statement.
“This is a happy day, but it’s not a decision that was made in a day,” Thompson said in an interview with a USA Today affiliate. “I’ve struggled with this and have been thinking about it for more than a year, when it has become clear that the Republican Party better represents my values and philosophy today.”
Thompson has joined with Republicans in recent years calling for a veto override session, according to the Associated Press.
The efforts of Thompson include a failed effort in 2021 to override a veto of legislation that would have prevented biological male athletes from competing in girls’ and women’s sports. The Democratic governor did not impose another veto to stop a transgender sports ban that occurred last year. Thompson also sought to remove restrictions on concealed handguns.
Louisiana is becoming even redder.
Louisiana Rep. Francis Thompson announces at the state GOP headquarters that he will leave behind his longtime Democratic Party affiliation and caucus with House Republicans. The move gives the GOP a supermajority in both chambers of the #lalege pic.twitter.com/tPe8CsefbF
— James Finn (@rjamesfinn) March 17, 2023
The Northern Virginia Daily reported, “The state has voted Republican in every presidential election since 2000. Of the state’s registered voters, 39% are Democrats, 34% are Republicans and 27% have registered under another party or no party, according to recent data from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office. Over the past couple decades, registered Democrats have immensely decreased. In 2000, Democrats made up 60% of registered voters.”
The switch by Thompson, however, received a collective shrug from Democrats.
“While Rep. Thompson’s decision is disappointing, it is not surprising. He already caucused with Republicans,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Sam Jenkins commented in a statement.
In response to Rep. Thompson’s party change @LAHouseDems released this statement ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/t4ftQcRL6Z
— Shannon Heckt (@ShannonHeckt) March 17, 2023
According to The Northern Virginia Daily, Louisiana GOP Chairman Louis Gurvich described the new supermajority as “historic” and that Rep. Thompson joining Republicans is “further evidence of Louisiana’s yearning for conservative values and a rejection of Washington liberal politics.”
As hope springs eternal for leftists in the deep red state, Katie Bernhardt, the chair of the Louisiana Democrats, commented in a statement, “We’re proud of the work that House and Senate Democrats are doing. We believe that voters will reward them in October, electing more Democrats to the Legislature to break this supermajority.”
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