The party-switching of Louisiana elected officials to the GOP continues apace, with the latest addition being state rep. Joel Robideaux of Lafayette. The former independent, who most recently has served as House Speaker Pro Tem, was one of four independents in the House. He’s now one of 57 Republicans – and joining the party puts Robideaux in a strong position to succeed Jim Tucker as House Speaker in a highly-contested race next year.
The Louisiana Committee for a Republican Majority, which had targeted Robideaux as a potential addition, is crowing loudly about his flip.
“We’re excited that Joel made it official and joined our swelling Republican ranks. LCRM believes that Robideaux is an effective leader and a conservative reformer,” said John Diez, Executive Director for LCRM.
“This is great news, and I’m glad that Joel is officially joining our ranks. I’ve had conversations with Joel about this very topic and welcome him to the team that will move Louisiana forward,” said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, founder and Honorary Chairman of LCRM.
In Robideaux, the state GOP is getting a powerful legislator entering his third term in office. A CPA by trade, Robideaux styles himself a fiscal and economic conservative – and in the most recent legislative scorecards he rates well by that standard. The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry gave Robideaux an 88 percent grade for this year’s session and an 86 percent grade for the recently-completed four-year term, while the Louisiana Family Forum liked him a little less, with a 78 percent grade this year.
Robideaux was the subject of a lengthy story in the Lafayette Independent back in April for his efforts to become the first Acadiana-area Speaker of the House in half a century and, at the time, the first-ever Speaker without a party affiliation.
In that piece was an interesting quote about Robideaux’s party affiliation and the Speaker’s role…
Lafayette attorney Clay Allen has been struck by Robideaux’s fiercely independent streak. One of the cofounders of Blueprint Louisiana, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to pro business and political ethics reform in Louisiana, Allen first thought of Robideaux, a state representative whose philosophy seemed perfectly aligned with Blueprint’s mission, as a lock to join the organization and sign its pledge. Robideaux respectfully declined. More recently, Allen has offered support for Robideaux in his bid to become speaker, and in doing so, tried to convince the no-party legislator that it would be a much easier row to hoe if he would join the Republican Party, which now holds a majority in the state House. Again, Robideaux resisted.
“Given his current leadership position as speaker pro tem,” Allen says, “if he would switch to the Republican Party, his election as the next speaker of the House would be a slam dunk. But Joel is truly an independent, and I have to admire a politician that sticks to his principles.”
Allen might have been a little off on his assessment of Robideaux’s independence. He could well express that individualism in a slightly different way as a Republican in the House, but it’s clear the potential Speaker can see which way the wind is blowing.