State Sen. Elbert Guillory, now a Republican, says Democratic Party chair remarks helped spur his switch
- Democrat use of the race card drives Senator into the Republican Party.
Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory has switched political parties to become the first black Republican Senator in the state since Reconstruction. The now-former Democrat from Opelousas made the announcement Friday in Baton Rouge at the "@large" conference, an event aimed at attracting black conservatives to the GOP.
"Is it a surprise, or is it the worst-kept secret in Louisiana? I am, as of this day, joining Frederick Douglass as a Republican," Guillory said at the event, after accepting the group's "Frederick Douglass" award.
This isn't the first time Guillory has made the party switch -- he became a Democrat in 2007 when he first ran for the state House of Representatives. However, his voting record remained staunchly conservative.
|Lt. Governor Oscar James
New Orleans city council member.
Lt. Governor 1868 to 1871.
Oscar James Dunn
Last year Guillory, who heads the Senate Retirement Committee, carried the bills containing Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposed retirement overhaul, which was strongly opposed by Democrats reports The Times-Picayune.
On Friday, Guillory said he had come to disagree with the direction of the Louisiana Democratic Party, which he referred to as "the party of disappointment." He expressed his opposition with the party's stances on abortion, the Second Amendment, education and immigration.
"Today, the party of disappointment has moved away from the majority of Louisiana. They have moved away from the traditional values of most Americans," he said. "Their policies have encouraged the high teen birth rates, high school drop out rates, high incarceration rates and very high unemployment rates."
After the event, Guillory shed some light on his decision, saying remarks by the state party chair this week influenced his decision. During debate Wednesday on a bill to expand Medicaid coverage in Louisiana, Sen. Karen Carter Peterson said fellow lawmakers had told her they based their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, on the race of the president and not on policy.
"The accusations of racism this week certainly helped push me over the edge. I thought that they were over the edge," Guillory said in an interview Friday. "It just showed me just how far out of tune I was, I am, with the Democrat Party."
The remarks were made Wednesday, the same day Guillory filed his paperwork to change parties.
"Is it a surprise, or is it the worst-kept secret in Louisiana? I am, as of this day,
joining Frederick Douglass as a Republican."
State Senator Elbert Guillory