The Baton Rouge Business Report reported this afternoon that East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, heretofore one of a triumvirate of Democrats among the parish’s top governing officials (mayor-president Kip Holden and district attorney Hillar Moore being the other two), has flipped his party affiliation to the GOP. Gautreaux has actually been a Republican for some time; he just didn’t tell anybody.
Add East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux to the growing list of Louisiana Democratic elected officials who have switched to the Republican Party. Gautreaux quietly changed his party affiliation in November, according to officials with the registrar of voters office. A sheriff’s spokesman confirmed that the party switch happened. Gautreaux is recovering from shoulder surgery and was unavailable to comment. A former Baker police chief, Gautreaux was first elected in 2007 and will face re-election this fall. East Baton Rouge Parish stood out in Louisiana, a state that is increasingly tilting to the Republican Party, in having Democrats as the three top elected officials: Gautreaux, Mayor Kip Holden and District Attorney Hillar Moore.
It will be interesting to see if Gautreaux’s new party affiliation begins to show up in his public statements and actions. In the first two years since he took over as sheriff in East Baton Rouge after his election in 2007, the department’s budget shot up from $59 million in FY 2007 to $74 million in FY 2009.
Holden is attempting to push a bond issue for the third time in four years with a price tag nearing a billion dollars. Gautreaux has so far supported the bond, which was blown out in the fall of 2009 by 65 percent of the parish’s voters. Whether he will change his tune for the latest incarnation now that Gautreaux is in a different party than the mayor might be the most significant question in East Baton Rouge politics this year.