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La. Sen. Patrick Connick, R-Marrero, speaks while explaining how he had reconsidered his previous regular session vote in favor of SB118 by Jay Morris, R-West Monroe, a bill which would allow concealed carry of guns without a permit, just before before the Senate voted Tuesday, July 20, 2021 on the veto override. The override attempt got only 23 the 26 votes needed to reverse Gov. John Bel Edwards' veto.

Angry Louisiana conservatives are looking for reasons why they lost last week’s two-day veto override session that failed to overcome a single bill rejected by Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Some say that the seminal moment was on the second day when the Louisiana House came two votes shy of overturning the governor’s veto of the transgender sports bill that had become one of the key reasons for Republican legislators calling the historic session.

But the real decisive moment came the day before when conservative Republican Sen. Patrick Connick, of Marrero, took the Senate floor shortly after voting to override the veto of the measure that banned transgender athletes born male from participating in women’s sporting events. The usual hum of side conversations hushed as senators riveted their attention on Connick.

He relayed the invective he received via social media, internet blogs and email trolls over his decision to change his vote supporting a bill that would allow adults to carry concealed weapons without a permit and hence without training.

“Pure hate. I’ll read one text I got,” Connick said, pulling out his smartphone. “‘F-you and your ugly ass baby, constitutional carry is what matters,’ with a picture of my grandkids. We’ve got to stop this. It’s we the people, not we the Republicans; not we the Democrats; not we the transgenders. It’s we the people, man. We’re dividing our house and it’s going to collapse.”

Connick said that since voting to allow concealed carry during the regular session, he had been persuaded by law enforcement in his district, who pleaded with him to let Edwards’ veto stand. Cops argued that widespread concealed carry, particularly by the untrained, could endanger public safety, not to mention result in a sharp change in how police, knowing the person they stopped could be armed, approached people on the street.

Connick was targeted in the national ammoland news blog for selling his vote in return for funding of a Roosevelt overpass project. Apart from there being no such project in his west bank Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes district, or anywhere in the state for that matter, Connick said he had received no promises from the governor’s office in return for his stance.

“Yet that went out to national media, all over the nation. I’ve been inundated with hate, pure hate,” Connick said.

Connick ended his Senate speech, saying: “I’m not voting for this bill and I’m not voting for any other bill to override the governor’s veto here on out. Thank you.”

What that meant was that regardless of the votes on any of the governor’s other vetoes, they would not pass.

The Senate needs 26 votes to override a gubernatorial veto. State Sen. Ronnie Johns stayed home in Lake Charles under doctors’ orders recuperating from major orthopedic surgery. The GOP majority in the Senate was down to 26.

(Johns said Thursday he also was targeted in “hundreds of emails, phone messages, and social media posts. Many were ugly, vitriolic, and threatening. It’s difficult for any family to go through something like this.”)

Without both Johns and Connick, the Senate was one Republican shy of the two-thirds majority needed to concur with two-thirds of the representatives in the House before any rejected bill can become law over the opposition of the governor.

All the other efforts to overcome the governor’s vetoed legislation that originated in the Senate, including the concealed carry measure, were defeated.

The House didn’t even take up any vetoed bills that started in their chamber before voting on the Senate-passed transgender sports override. And when that one came up two votes short, House Republicans met for about two hours, then decided to adjourn and go home.

Left untouched on the House agenda were election-related and anti-vaccination measures that like concealed carry and transgender sports, were being pushed through state legislatures across the country in hopes of re-engaging a Republican base that, at least nationally, became listless after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Connick said in an interview Thursday that he trusted that his legislative colleagues believed in the issues they were pursuing. “Fundamentally, though, these bills were just to stir up emotion, push those emotional buttons. We’ve got to come together and get rid of that part of it.”


Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.