The Regular Democratic Organization, or the “Old Regulars,” is the oldest continuing civic and political organization in the country. During the first half of the 20th Century the group ruled New Orleans through patronage and political favors. The RDO was created in 1874, the same year the Battle of Liberty Place occurred in protest of the election of Republican Gov. Wililam Kellogg.
Under the organization, the group had 17 leaders, one for each city ward. The group decided who would run for office, and then handed out jobs and political favors to those who supported the group’s candidates. It created thousands of jobs within city government. The RDO worked with major corporations, including Standard Oil and sugar growers and refiners, to expand its reach.
The RDO held city hall from 1904 when Martin Behrman was elected, through 1946 when Chep Morrison was elected mayor under a promise to remove RDO influence from city hall. The RDO ‘s home was a social club called the Choctaw Club. It was located for 40 years at 518 St. Charles Ave., within the same block as Gallier Hall, the site of city hall until 1958. When the club was chartered in 1897, members included 39 men who had held office.
Members included Sens. S.D. McEnery and Murphy J. Foster, Govs. Francis T. Nicholls and. W.W. Heard. The RDO is still active and endorses members of both parties, saying that RDO also stands for Republicans, Democrats and Others. It endorsed Republican Bill Cassidy for U.S. Senator over incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu in 2014.