My father moved our family from the South shore to Covington in 1983, like many other transplants from the New Orleans area who decided to relocate to what he still describes today as “God’s Country.” The Northshore is a blood red enclave in a deep red state – the bedroom community of law and order that prides itself in being separated from and standing in stark contrast to the undeniable disfunction and violent crime in New Orleans under Democrat leadership (putting aside the rather well-documented dysfunction in St. Tammany Parish as of late, but I digress).
Anyone seeking election to office in these parts is basically required to have an “R” behind his or her name to have a chance. Given that fact, few pay attention to the inner workings of the fraternal organization known as the La. GOP. Most people don’t know and don’t care who sits on the Republican State Central Committee or what it does. It doesn’t matter…until it does. (See, e.g., the current occupant of the Fourth Floor, as implausible and unimaginable as that tenure would have seemed before it happened not so long ago in “red” Louisiana).
Which begs the question why the La. Republican Party moved forward to endorse John Raymond, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, over his opponent, Republican Jay Galle, in the State legislative race for District 104, covering parts of Mandeville, Abita, and Lacombe. To its credit, the St. Tammany Republican Executive Committee (RPEC), upon which Mr. Raymond also sits, seemingly recognized the perceived conflict of interest and wisely decided not to endorse either Republican candidate in the race. Not so for the La. GOP. Why?
According to its website and mission statement, “The Republican Party of Louisiana is dedicated to building a stronger and more unified party,” touting conservative principles and values at its core. I don’t know Mr. Raymond personally. But I have a tv and a computer, and I’ve seen the media coverage describing the pending criminal charges he is facing. I also know Mr. Raymond ran for the House seat in District 90 in Slidell in the last election cycle and was defeated by a margin of 60-39% and 60-30% respectively in the special and general elections in 2018 and 2019.
Unlike Mr. Raymond, I do know Jay Galle personally. A newcomer to politics, Jay is an active member and volunteer in our Church and its Men’s Club. He helps coach our sons’ flag football team. I also know his wife, Diana, who also volunteers in our Church alongside my wife and many others working to deepen and strengthen Christian values for our families and young children. I know his kids, who are the same age as mine and attend elementary school at Our Lady of the Lake. I haven’t known Jay very long, but I know him well enough to believe him when he told me that he’s not beholden to anyone and he’s running for the sake of his children to improve our state so that they don’t choose to leave, like so many others have. I haven’t seen his service record, but I know Jay is a Marine Corps veteran and a dedicated family man, the kind of person I’d be proud to have representing me in the State House (although I live in the district next door).
Moreover, Galle is not running under the cloud of the nationwide attention and scrutiny the allegations against Mr. Raymond have brought to our community, whether true or not. Regardless of the merits of those charges, they exist and have been well publicized in state and national media. Mr. Raymond is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and he may well be vindicated. But the verdict has yet to occur, and the constituents of District 104 and members of the Louisiana GOP are equally entitled to representation that befits their core values and beliefs.
Whether you like it or not, the Democrat Party is very effective as a cohesive tool of the Left to advance what it believes to be “progressive” values. Conservatives yearn for the same cohesion and efficacy through the Republican Party as its vehicle, but the GOP often resembles the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, what with its fractured factions, infighting, and RINO labels attributed to its fellow members at both the state and national levels.
Why do Republicans eat their own young?
The culture war is real and raging at the moment, so much so that a Supreme Court Justice could not define a “woman” in her confirmation hearing (HINT: adult human female). We need to be doing everything we can to encourage more newcomers like Galle to jump in and fight these battles. But,… we don’t.
The endorsement of Raymond over Galle appears to be the latest example of political fratricide by the Grand Old Party, and a self-inflicted wound. I cannot blame any conservative interested in serving and throwing his or her hat in the ring for being discouraged by that decision. But I can blame those who made that decision. It’s not as if Galle is running as a far-Left wackadoodle. His campaign slogan is “Ready to Serve as a Conservative Leader.” What gives? Respectfully, GOP, please “READ THE ROOM.”
At best, it’s bad optics (awful phrase) that hurts the brand (another awful phrase) and it turns off a lot of people in the middle. At worst, it suggests that inside politics and cronyism prevailed over what’s best for the GOP and its mission to advance its stated goals. This then turns off the conservative constituency itself, myself included. Either way, it’s evidence of bad judgment by party leaders.
I don’t have an answer to why the La. GOP endorsed John Raymond over fellow Republican Jay Galle, but I have the right to ask the question why as a life-long Republican with common sense.
The La. GOP appears not to embrace the unifying principles that it touts as its core mission, and that’s a shame. It shouldn’t be that way, and something needs to change. For starters, the party could push for closed primaries to avoid such debacles in the future. In the meantime, at a minimum, the GOP can wake up and devote itself to following Reagan’s 11th Commandment to avoid cutting off its own life blood. Or it can continue to eat its young on the way to irrelevance, defeat, and extinction while the Left fiddles as the country burns.
John D. “Dan” Miranda
Lifelong registered Republican since 1992.
Dan Miranda is an attorney and resident of Mandeville, Louisiana. He served on the staff of Gov. Mike Foster from 1998-2004. He is active with Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mandeville, the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce and its Advocacy and Public Policy Committee, and he is on the Board of Directors of the St. Tammany Chamber PAC, which endorsed Mr. Galle in the District 104 legislative race. The personal views stated herein are his own and are not submitted on behalf of the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber PAC, or any other organization with which he is affiliated.