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Opelousas Senator Elbert Guillory Switching Party Affiliation

State Senator Elbert Lee Guillory
State Senator Elbert Lee Guillory

BATON ROUGE, La. (KPEL) — Democrat State Sen. Elbert Guillory switched parties Friday, announcing his switch back to the Republican Party at a conference for black conservatives in Baton Rouge.

Sen. Guillory changed parties in 2007 from Republican to Democrat. He becomes Louisiana’s first black republican state senator since Reconstruction.

GOP Chairman Roger Villere welcomed Sen. Guillory into the party and thanked him “for your dedication to public service to the people of this great state.”

“Over the last couple of years the party of disappointment has just moved so far away from where the majority of Louisianians are and moved so far away from American values that it has become easy (to make this decision),” says Guillory. “I know it will be disappointing to some people but they will understand that I changed shirts but I didn’t change my heart or my brain.”

Scott Mckay, @large conference and political blogger with The Hayride: “Elbert is a guy who has a tremendous amount of respect at the Capitol. Everybody knows that this is a man of tremendous integrity. Very intelligent guy. One of the best speakers they have in the state legislature. And he’s also a man of principle.”

Sen. Guillory’s former party is voicing their displeasure.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk: “In a craven display of political opportunism, Elbert Guillory today rejoined the Party that has stood with Bobby Jindal’s failed policies and against the working families of Acadiana. This move isn’t surprising given Guillory’s record of saying one thing to his constituents and then voting another way.

“The people of the 24th Senate District deserve better than Elbert Guillory. He should do the right thing and step down from his seat immediately since he has chosen to abandon the Democratic Party values that the voters elected him to represent.”

Opelousas Mayor Don Cravins Sr.: “Today’s announcement comes as a surprise to almost no one, as Elbert Guillory’s party affiliation now finally matches his record of voting against the best interests of Acadiana families.”

Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin: “As an elected official and constituent of the 24th Senate District, we are called upon to stand up for our constituents. Elbert Guillory fails that simple test, and we are a stronger, more unified Party today with this announcement.

Bambi Polotzola, Chair of Democratic Parish Executive Committee, St. Landry Parish: “Elbert Guillory has given the voters of his district years of broken promises, telling them one thing and then voting against the interests of his district. In St. Landry Parish alone, there are nearly 13,000 uninsured adults — working people, cooks, child care workers, nursing home aides. The Louisiana Solution, a compromise, bipartisan plan, would have expanded access to health insurance for more than 6,000 of those folks. Instead of fighting for these people, Elbert Guillory decided to take a walk on a critical vote. He can keep on walking as far as I’m concerned.”

Jolan Jolivette, Chair of Democratic Parish Executive Committee, Lafayette Parish: “I have been disappointed with Elbert Guillory’s voting record, and now the same goes for his switch to the Republican Party. Two weeks ago there was a vote for equal pay for women in Louisiana. The Senate only needed one vote to pass equal pay for women, and he walked out on that vote. Now he is walking out on the hard-working families in Senate District 24 that voted for him. Louisiana needs strong Democratic leaders that are not followers and will focus on the economic issues that are affecting our great state.”

But Guillory says this reaction by Democrats is something he expected. “It’s been an uncomfortable relationship for both of us…It hasn’t been a good fit.” Guillory says he “doesn’t need their applause or understanding.” (Click below to listen to Guillory’s complete reaction to Friday’s events)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

KPEL’s Nathan Pike was at the @large conference in Baton Rouge, where Guillory made the announcement. He took this video of Guillory making his announcement:

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