He’s basically been caucusing with Republicans for the last few years, so nothing will really change with this morning’s announcement, but Francis Thompson, a state representative from Delhi who’s been in the Louisiana legislature – either in the House or Senate – for almost half a century is now a former Democrat.
Thompson is the latest, though perhaps not the last, of the party-switchers in the legislature. From a press release the LAGOP put out this morning…
BATON ROUGE, LA— The Republican Party of Louisiana welcomed State Representative Francis Thompson to the Republican Party on Friday.
A lifelong Democrat, Thompson said that he feels more comfortable as a member of a party with traditional values.
“Let me clear — Nothing has changed!”, Thompson stated. “There are values and principles that I firmly hold onto that guide my decisions. My conservative voting record over my years in the Legislature speaks for itself. The push the past several years by Democratic leadership on both the national and state level to support certain issues does not align with those values and principles that are a part of my Christian life,” Thompson said.
LAGOP Chairman Louis Gurvich welcomed Thompson, noting the historic nature of the switch.
“This is a historic day for the Republican Party. Francis having joined our ranks is further evidence of Louisiana’s yearning for conservative values and a rejection of Washington liberal politics,” Gurvich said.
House Majority Leader Blake Miguez, who accompanied Thompson at a Friday morning news conference held at LAGOP Headquarters, said: “Today marks a pivotal moment for the Louisiana Legislature, as it has reached a supermajority for the first time in modern history. Representative Thompson’s decision to change parties after 48 years sheds light on the evolving nature of political affiliations and highlights the importance of this milestone for the Legislature.”
Francis Thompson is the longest serving member of the Louisiana Legislature, having served 32 years in the House, then 12 years in the Senate and back to the House for 4 years. He represents District 19 in East Carroll, Madison, Morehouse, Ouachita, Richland and West Carroll Parishes.
Thompson is a retired college professor and businessman. He hosts a lifelong dedication to education at all levels in Louisiana. He serves as Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and previously served as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Forestry, Aquaculture, and Rural Development Committee from 2008-2019.
Miguez continued, “Francis made a personal choice to switch parties, influenced by his faith and his perception that the Democratic Party no longer aligns with his values. As a person of faith, he found the Republican Party to be more compatible with his principles, a sentiment shared by many Louisianians. This is a meaningful decision for a veteran legislator who has witnessed numerous shifts in our state’s political landscape, and we extend a warm welcome to him in our party.”
“My choice to move to the Republican Party is one that best represents my views and those of the constituents who elect me to serve them.” Thompson concluded.
More often than not, flipping Democrats results in an ideological dilution of the state’s roster of GOP politicians. That isn’t really true in Thompson’s case. For example, LABI rated him a 93 percent on their scorecard last year, and he had an 89 percent score on the Louisiana Family Forum scorecard. That puts him as a run-of-the-mill Republican.
As opposed to Melinda White, who flipped from Democrat to Independent and then to Republican pretty much solely for the purpose of trying to run for Washington Parish President this fall. She’s as far left as she is nuts and having her in the party does little good for anyone.
Or Jeremy Lacombe, the Democrat from the Port Allen/New Roads House district across the Mississippi from Baton Rouge who was soundly beaten in last year’s District 17 state senate race by Caleb Kleinpeter and is now rumored to be about to flip to save himself this fall.
With Thompson, and White, who flipped last year, there are now 70 Republicans in the Louisiana House. The problem with that is it’s got lousy leadership generally unwilling to press that advantage, and it’s not exactly a solid supermajority. When you’re depending on the Joe Stagnis and Stephanie Hilfertys to stand strong, your 70 voters will play more like 65.
Still, it’s a milestone. Louisiana now has supermajorities of “R’s” in both houses, and that’s not been true since Reconstruction if even it ever was.