Central Candidates Vie for GOP Support
According to state law, the Republican Party in each parish is governed by a Parish Executive Committee, or PEC, which is elected by the registered Republican voters of the parish in March of Presidential election years for a four-year term.
One of the primary responsibilities of a PEC is to interview and endorse Republican candidates for local and state office, select the ones they believe are best qualified, and make those endorsements known to Republican voters.
The East Baton Rouge Republican Parish Executive Committee is a 17-member body. Five members of the PEC are elected parishwide, and 12 members are elected from the 12 Metro Council districts in the parish.
Because of this year’s busy election schedule, the PEC will meet throughout the year to interview candidates and make endorsements. The first election is the Central municipal elections April 5. This fall, the parish will face elections for U.S. Senate, Congress from the Sixth and Second Districts, all 19th Judicial District judges, family judges, and juvenile judges, and East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, Central, and Zachary School Board.
The PEC prepares questionnaires for each office and asks each candidate for proof of residence, proof of registration for at least six months as a Republican, and proof of any claimed college degrees and military service. Candidates provide the PEC with a biography and answers to the questionnaire. The PEC does not ask for information about the candidates’ campaign strategy.
After reviewing the materials, the PEC holds an endorsement meeting to hear from each candidate individually, ask questions, and then vote on the endorsement. Meetings of the EBR Republican PEC are held at the Metro Council Chamber on the Thursday after the second Tuesday of the month.
Since the current PEC took office in March 2012, it has held endorsement meetings for Mayor-President, Metro Council, Public Service Commission, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Constable, Justice of the Peace, and State Representative. Until now, every Republican candidate for these offices has participated in the endorsement process. Supreme Court justice Jeff Hughes and State Rep. Barry Ivey said their endorsement by the PEC was crucial to their election victories.
The people of Central are represented on the PEC by seven members — the representatives from Metro Council District 1 (north part of Central), Metro Council District 4 (south part of Central), and five at-large members who have to run in Central and the rest of the parish.
The membership of the PEC reads like a who’s who of conservative leaders in the parish. The five at-large members of the Republican Parish Executive Committee members are
• Elizabeth Dent Sumrall, chairman of Taxbusters, which led opposition to the CATS tax;
• Dr. Tommy French, retired pastor at Jefferson Baptist Church, former President
of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, current chairman of the Board of Trustees of Louisiana College, and current Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party;
• Former Rep. Woody Jenkins, publisher of Central City News and Capital City News; represented Baton Rouge in the Louisiana House of Representatives for 28 years, longer than anyone in history;
• Dr. Dan Kyle, retired Legislative Auditor and now Treasurer of the Louisiana Republican Party; and
• Retired City Court Judge Darrell White, president of Retired Judges of America.
The 12 PEC members elected from Metro Council districts are
• Metro Council District 1 – John Coghlan, Zachary City Councilman, and Chairman, City of Zachary Republican Party; his district includes the northern part of the City of Central.
• Metro Council District 2 – Ryan
Cross, Communications Director of Louisiana Republican Party, son of late Sen. Mike Cross, and chairman of City of Baker Republican Party.
• Metro Council District 3 – Richie Edmonds, realtor.
• Metro Council District 4 – Jr. Shelton, realtor.
• Metro Council District 5 – Dr. Charles (Trey) Thomas, Executive Director of Family Values Research Institute.
• Metro Council District 6 – Former Sen. Dan Richey, one of the key conservative leaders in the House and later the Senate; now Legislative Director, Louisiana Family Forum, the state’s leading pro-family organization.
• Metro Council District 7 – Col. Phil St. Amant II (US Army, retired) and past National Commander, Military Order of the World Wars.
• Metro Council District 8 – Linda Price Thomas, Director of Sales and Marketing, Chef John Bergeron Enterprises
• Metro Council District 9 – Jay Lindsey, retired owner of Jay’s Donuts
• Metro Council District 10 – Dr. Karla Doucet, physician and anesthesiologist
• Metro Council District 11 – Jerry Arbour, attorney at law and school board member
• Metro Council District 12 – Connie Bernard, school board member
Officers for 2012 to 2016. The officers of the Republican Party of East Baton Rouge Parish are Woody Jenkins, chairman; Connie Bernard, vice chairman; Ryan Cross, secretary; Dan Richey, treasurer, and Elizabeth Dent Sumrall, executive committee member.