GOP Begins Race for State Chairman
Veteran State Republican Party chairman Roger Villere will step down at the end of the year after 12 years at the helm of the party. So far, four candidates are running to replace Villere, and three spoke on behalf of their candidacies to members of the East Baton Rouge Republican Parish Executive Committee last Friday at Doe’s Eat Place.
State party Rules committee chairman Scott Wilfong of Baton Rouge, Rep. Barry Ivey (R-Central), and state party finance chairman Charlie Buckles of Lafayette addressed PEC members. State party secretary Louis Gurvich of New Orleans was unable to attend.
Ivey, who spoke first, said his main issues are transparency and accountability. “We have to acknowledge the success of those who brought us here. At the same time, we must stick to the rules and not attempt to change the rules in midstream,” he said. “We have to focus on recruiting and funding good candidates.” “At the legislature, we leave too much on the table. The Democrats are engaged at the legislature and we as a party are not as engaged as we should be.” “We have 60 Republicans in the House but not all are conservatives.” “We should reform our endorsement process, notify candidates when we are going to endorse, send them questionnaires, and hear them out.”
Scott Wilfong said, “Vision is the key. It’s not about age or gender. I know this is something I can do. We have to be the backbone for elected officials. The missing piece today is the governor’s office. That has to be our No. 1 goal.” “We will have a scorecard for legislative votes and a lobbyist at the Capitol.” “Statewide officials and members of Congress can help with the fundraising.” “Sustaining members are another part of fundraising.”
Charlie Buckles said, “The first job of the chairman is raising the money. We have to make the party more relevant and organize around eight or nine key issues. One of the big issues is closed primaries.”
Buckles said he favors voters being able to switch parties on election day, which brought some objections from PEC members. He also said the party should be able to deny some candidates the right to use the Republican label, which also drew objections.
The election will be in December.