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Switch to help win top spot reignites parish GOP feud

While state Rep. Joel Robidueax surprised no one with his recent acquisition of the Republican Party label, some whining by members of the GOP from his area may have caught off guard those who don’t know the circumstances of Robideaux’s entry into the Legislature and his voting record.

Robideaux, whose switch from independence is considered related to his bid to become the next House speaker pending reelection, first got into the Legislature when winning a special election over the choice of many Lafayette area Republicans. This confirmed a growing gulf between two factions of the local GOP, between former state Rep. Ernie Alexander and outgoing state Sen. Mike Michot. Without going into the Byzantine details of the tiff, involving such issues as leadership of the state party, supporting GOP national candidates, and legislation and retaliation about it, the onetime allies increasingly became divided and Robideaux was backed by Michot against Alexander and others’ choice, where Robideaux ran as an independent to differentiate him.

While Robideaux throughout his political career to this point maintained a no-party identity, his voting behavior as a legislator clearly is conservative and reform, as his scores on the Louisiana Legislature Log voting index have demonstrated.
This scorecard, where 100 denotes maximum voting for conservative and reform measures, shows over the past term an average of 77.5 for him – higher than the average for the House GOP over that span.

So when Alexander, speaking for the Lafayette Parish Republican Party Executive Committee, termed Robideaux as purportedly “not well-thought of” among local Republicans, in fact he referred only to feelings of a handful of officials with an axe to grind not over ideology or reform instincts, but over personality issues. In fact, Alexander’s last term produced a LLL voting record little different from Robideaux’s, only about five points higher.

Note also that Alexander has particular animus and irony attached to this situation. Alexander admits he was forced out of running for a third term in 2007 because Michot and Robideaux were willing to back a challenger to him, now state Rep. Page Cortez. And, interesting enough, Alexander himself began his political career as a no-party official, winning a seat on the City-Parish Council in 1995 designated as “other” on the ballot, before succeeding Michot into the House in 1999.

So when Alexander faults Robideaux for a switch of convenience and declares no official local GOP imprimatur will come his way (in contrast to the state party and allied organizations which embraced Robdieaux with open arms), Republicans both in Lafayette and statewide who support conservative and reform efforts should disregard disgruntlement from messengers of questionable authority on the matter, review the actual record, and thereby welcome Robideaux’s official notification that he’s joining them and as the favorite to become the next leader of the House.

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