The libertarian wing of the Republican Party is back in Louisiana. The state’s liberty activists have reactivated the state chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus.
The Republican Liberty Caucus of Louisiana successfully held its first organizational meeting at Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar & Fish House this past Thursday. The purpose of the meeting was to reestablish the state chapter’s active status with the national organization, elect officers to serve on its state board, introduce others to the RLC, discuss strategy, and build working relationships with others. The meeting was lead by Lee Neher and organized by Rob Maness and Kelly Camp. Rob Maness was elected state chair, Lee Neher was elected vice chair, Kelly Camp was elected secretary, and Robbye St. Pierre was elected treasurer.
Chairman Maness said in a statement, “The RLC-Louisiana will work with the LA-GOP and local GOP groups across the state to recruit Republican Liberty candidates and help hold Republican officials accountable to the party’s principles of limited government, liberty for all, and prosperity. We are excited to begin our outreach to liberty-minded Louisiana citizens and recruit them to join us in the RLC-LA.”
Vice Chair Neher agreed in a statement, “The members of RLC-LA are excited to bring the message of liberty to Republicans throughout the state and are looking forward to working with other liberty-minded organizations to elect Republicans who are advocates of individual liberty, limited government, and free market economics.”
It’s no secret that libertarians and liberty-minded Republicans have had a rough go in the Trump era. U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who once upon a time had libertarian-leanings, and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who still has them, have both been forced out of office because of their clashes with President Donald Trump. The Republican Party under Trump seems to be more interested in increasing federal spending, building walls, and trade wars than limited government and liberty.
Nor does Louisiana appear to be all that libertarian friendly. Gary Johnson only got 1% of the vote in Louisiana in 2016, which was one of his worst performing states. For reference, David Duke got 3% in his bid for U.S. Senate that year. The Libertarian Party of Louisiana is only fielding candidates in 3 out of the state’s 6 congressional districts this year compared to the LA GOP fielding in 5 districts and Democrats are contesting all 6.
On the other hand, some libertarian Republicans have thrived in the Trump era. Those libertarians happen to be temperamentally more like Rob Maness than Gary Johnson. In fact, Maness was a strong supporter of Donald Trump in 2016.
RLC Louisiana has a surprisingly solid base to build from. There are strong chapters of Young Americans for Liberty at Tulane University and UL-Lafayette. In fact, the chapter at UL-Lafayette was named the top YAL chapter in the country this year. Finally, there is Rob Maness’s base which gave him 5% of the vote in his U.S. Senate race in 2016. Maness was also endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that year.