And Another Makes 52

State representative Fred Mills is the latest ex-Democrat legislator to flip to the GOP, giving the Republicans a 52-49 majority in the House of Representatives.

Mills, a freshman from Parks who represents House District 46, made his switch over the weekend. The news came as something of a surprise to Louisiana Speaker of the House Jim Tucker, who called it “interesting” – an indication that Mills’ switch isn’t the product of intensive recruiting efforts on the part of the state’s GOP establishment.

Mills is a branch president and CEO of  Farmers-Merchants Bank & Trust Co., and he’s also the owner of Mills Cashway Pharmacy in Parks. That small-business background has shown up in his voting record in the state House; in the 2010 legislative session Mills scored a 100 for his votes by the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and has a lifetime score of 76 from LABI.

Neither Mills nor Louisiana Democrat Party spokesman Kevin Franck offered comment on the switch.

There is an interesting backdrop forming behind Mills’ flip. It seems that state senator and Democrat-turned-independent Troy Hebert’s seat is coming open following the latter’s acceptance of a position heading Louisiana’s Alcohol and Tobacco Control commission, and Mills and fellow new GOP state representative Simone Champagne of Jeanerette are the two candidates most commonly bandied about to run for Hebert’s post. Many had expressed the opinion – backed to an extent by the LABI vote-scoring (Champagne scored a 100 in this year’s session and has a lifetime rating of 73) – that Mills is the more conservative of the two, making it ironic that he was the Democrat in the race. That’s no longer the case.



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