One of the state’s most conservative Democrat legislators is no more. Rep. Taylor Barras of New Iberia is the latest to abandon the Democrats and become part of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
And the Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, which had targeted Barras for a party switch, is pretty happy about it.
“The economy in southwest Louisiana has been devastated by the Democrat’s moratorium on oil and gas drilling,” said John Diez, the executive director of the conservative group founded by U.S. Sen. David Vitter. “Led by Barack Obama and other Democrats in the U.S. Congress, thousands good paying jobs have been lost. Meanwhile as the number of jobs decrease, the size and cost of government has increased.”
Vitter was pleased as well.
“As a Republican, Taylor Barras can hold a key leadership position in the next legislative cycle. I hope Republicans throughout the state are as excited about Taylor’s switch as I am,” he said.
Barras has long been considered as a reliable Democrat vote for conservative causes. He voted with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry 83 percent of the time and the Louisiana Family Forum 89 percent of the time.
And redistricting had a lot to do with the party switch, as the redrawn district Barras will represent voted 72 percent for Vitter in last fall’s U.S. Senate election. It wasn’t so much a question of Barras facing annihilation at the hands of a GOP challenger as removing any reason a solid conservative would have for not switching; he’s got an extremely Republican-friendly district that will let him be as conservative as he wants from now on.
Barras’ switch is another coup for LCRM, as his seat is one more success for the organization and the Republican Party as a whole. In 2005, the Louisiana House of Representatives had 40 Republican House seats, while Republicans held 16 seats in the Senate. Today, Republicans control both Chambers of the legislature with 56 seats in the House and 22 in the Senate. That’s a major change in a short time, though it has happened mostly without the pomp and circumstance of a single-cycle electoral rout.