A member of the Louisiana Republican Party's governing committee is calling for the state GOP to censure Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle because they did not endorse U.S. Sen. David Vitter in his run for governor against Democrat John Bel Edwards.
Dardenne and Angelle, both Republicans, also ran for governor last year but didn't make it into the runoff race. Dardenne endorsed Edwards in the runoff, while Angelle endorsed no one.
The proposed Republican State Central Committee resolution calls for a public reprimand of the two and has been scheduled to be taken up at the committee's meeting next month. The resolution's author, Christian Gil, of Houma, declined to comment on the proposal when reached by phone on Wednesday.
One day in early 2013, two seatmates in the Louisiana House — Reps. John Bel Edwards and Sam…
"As leaders in the Republican Party of Louisiana, we are obligated to fully support our party, platform, and its candidates. Only in times of great crisis or betrayal is it necessary to publicly censure our leaders. Today we are faced with both," the proposal reads.
It's been eight months since Edwards beat Vitter, 56 to 44 percent, in the election. But tensions have continued to simmer among some Republicans since Edwards became the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and the only Democrat to hold state-wide office in Louisiana.
Under state law, there is no way to formally kick someone out of a political party. The resolution would be a ceremonial show of disapproval.
Jason Doré, executive director of the state GOP, said these kinds of resolutions are not uncommon, but he could not recall a successful censure of a member.
"Generally, you don't punish people for not doing something," Doré said.
Dardenne, a former lieutenant governor and secretary of state under the GOP banner, was out of town Wednesday and was unavailable for comment.
A campaign spokesman for Angelle, a Public Service Commission member who switched from parties from Democrat to Republican in 2010, dismissed the effort.
"This resolution is a false and ridiculous distraction that attempts to take away from the real issues facing the people of south Louisiana," Angelle spokesman Ryan Cross said.
During the general election campaign, Dardenne and Angelle frequently spoke out against Vitter and attempted to paint him as a Republican who would lose to a Democrat in a runoff, largely because of his links to a 2007 prostitution scandal.
Vitter apologized and admitted to a “very serious sin” after his phone number showed up in the records of the D.C. Madam, but he repeatedly rejected attempts to glean more information over the years. Angelle and Dardenne each brought up the scandal during debates and forums. Their remarks were later used in pro-Edwards campaign ads in the runoff.
Party leaders publicly rebuked Dardenne last fall after he announced his endorsement of Edwards.
At the time, Louisiana GOP chairman Roger Villere called Dardenne “the Nick Saban of Louisiana politics” — comparing Dardenne, an LSU alum, to the LSU-turned-Alabama football coach whose name has become synonymous with “traitor” among LSU fans. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus called Dardenne’s decision to back Edwards over Vitter an “act of betrayal to the Republican Party.”
The resolution as drafted for the committee's consideration cites Edwards' record since taking office Jan. 11, including his decision to expand Medicaid and increase taxes to address the state budget crisis. Over the course of two special sessions called by Edwards, state lawmakers increased revenue by about $1.6 billion — much of that through a sales tax hike.
The resolution claims that Angelle, who is now running for Congress, was repeatedly asked to endorse Vitter. It also notes that Dardenne now works as Edwards' commissioner of administration, essentially the governor's chief budget architect.
The resolution concludes that actions, such as the refusal to endorse Republicans over Democrats, create "doubt amongst the citizens of Louisiana about the purity of this esteemed body."
Several other Republicans, who also backed Edwards' run, are not named in the censure proposal.