July 15, 2020
Contact: Allyson Sanders

Stephen Handwerk Departing as Longest-Serving Executive Director of Louisiana Democratic Party

After eight and a half years, two successful gubernatorial races, over 4,000 Democrats trained, countless new free and affordable tools for candidates, a Presidential Primary where Democrats outperformed Republicans by over 62,000 votes, and a headquarters fully paid off – it’s time to pass the baton to the next team.

BATON ROUGE, LA – Wednesday, Stephen Handwerk announced he is departing the Louisiana Democratic Party as Executive Director at the end of August. After eight and a half years, Handwerk is currently the longest-serving Executive Director of a Democratic state party in the country and Louisiana’s longest-serving Executive Director.

While Handwerk originally planned to depart in early 2020, the needs of the party, the pandemic, and the uncertainty of the election and Democratic National Convention convinced him to delay his departure.

Handwerk released the following statement: 

“This has been the most challenging and intense job I have ever had, but it has also been the most rewarding. I am very proud of the work we were able to do – including most recently, posting some extremely impressive Presidential Preference Primary numbers where Democrats outperformed Republicans by over 62,000 votes.

“When I came into the party we were cash poor, had few donors, even fewer activists, few staff, a non existent digital program, a near worthless voterfile and few people who knew how to use it — and a lot of very disappointed and disaffected Democrats who wanted change.  We were able to take a deep hard look at the party and respond with meaningful programs and tools to help us grow.  From grass tops to grass roots, we were able to connect folks and build our resources, diversify our revenue streams and build an infrastructure and set of tools available to all of our candidates.

“I’m excited to move to my next chapter.  I won’t be going far from state democratic parties as I’ll be working closely with the Association of State Democratic Committees and advising several state parties to build a more robust support program, taking full advantage of what makes state parties unique and valuable to the Democratic ecosystem.  I am also looking forward to continuing to advise candidates who are running for office to run better, smarter, more efficient campaigns.  You won’t be able to keep me away from commenting on politics on the radio, where I appear every month on KPEL, and I hope to get back to filing regular columns in the digital world.”

Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party, released the following statement:

“Stephen has been the consummate professional throughout his term with the party.  He had the hard job of telling people no sometimes, but was able to dig in and fill in during some really difficult times and I can’t thank him enough for his professionalism, dedication and experience that he deployed here.  Our party is stronger for having him and he is going to be missed.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to see him move over to our national association. As the longest serving Executive Director in the nation, I have witnessed just how much his peers have grown to trust his guidance and how he has represented us so well on the national stage.”

Ken Martin, President of the Association of State Democratic Committees and chairman of the Minnesota DFL released the following statement:

“There are very few Executive Directors around the country who have delivered more to their state party and the national party than Stephen Handwerk.  I have had the great fortune to work closely with Stephen for many years now and appreciate his deep and abiding commitment to our Democratic Party.  His leadership and counsel have been invaluable not only to me but to state party leaders, candidates and elected officials throughout our nation.    During his tenure as Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, Stephen served in crucial leadership positions including serving as one of ten people on Chairman Tom Perez’s transition committee, 5 years as a member of our National Voterfile Cooperative Board of Directors, and he has served as a vital member of our team to establish the Democratic Data Exchange (DDx).  I can’t thank Stephen enough for his friendship and tireless work on behalf of Louisiana Democrats and especially for our National Party.  I am very excited he has agreed to continue his work by coming to work with us at the Association of State Democratic Committees as we evolve to meet the challenges of 2020 and beyond.”



Handwerk is proud that he was able to play a role in the huge accomplishments for Democrats during his term as Executive Director:

  • Re-Elected President Barack Obama

  • Elected John Bel Edwards governor when everyone said it was impossible

  • Re-Elected John Bel Edwards governor when everyone said it was impossible

  • Elected the first woman Mayor of Shreveport

  • Elected the first woman Mayor President of Baton Rouge

  • Elected the first woman Mayor of New Orleans

  • Elected the first African American Mayor of Alexandria

  • Elected the youngest Mayor of Shreveport

  • Paid off the mortgage on our office (few state parties own their offices)

  • Launch of College Democrats of Louisiana

  • Launch of Louisiana High School Democrats

  • Diversified revenue streams to better meet the needs of operations

  • Drastically increased the national investments into our state, solidifying a solid SPP program, Secured Multiple Grants through the SPIF process along with Countless Technology investments

  • Trained more than 4,000 Democrats

  • Ran 3 Democratic National Conventions

  • Held 8 True Blue Galas, each with over 900 in attendance, the biggest had 1,300

  • Raised more than $36 million dollars for the Democratic Team

  • Elected a historic number of LGBTQ+ people to our governing bodies, including our first Trans member