After a bruising, tawdry general election cycle that left Louisiana Republicans bitterly divided and a run-off election that saw their inevitable candidate utterly collapse, fundamental questions are being raised about the future of the Republican state party in Louisiana. Unable to unite around the deeply flawed candidate at the top of their ticket and flailing for an effective message, the Republican state party lost the election and now finds itself at a loss for leadership—- or a viable way forward.
The catastrophic collapse of the Vitter campaign, which dragged fellow GOP elected officials through the mud, has ignited intra-party warfare and stirred a wave of panic ahead of elections for the Republican State Central Committee. With the end of the Vitter-Jindal era in Louisiana, state Republicans are rapidly turning on each other in a struggle to fill the void created in the aftermath. Leaders in the state Republican party were largely silent and ineffective during the campaign, and have yet to articulate a path forward following the loss.
“The LAGOP has been coasting for far too long,” said Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party. “After their anemic support and ultimate collapse of their top candidate’s campaign and all the reckless rhetoric they threw around; the Louisiana Republicans have lost any credible claim to offering leadership. Jindal leaves office with our state worse off than it was 8 years ago and the LAGOP is forced to admit their errors or double down on the very policies that sunk Jindal and Vitter.”