BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana state Rep. Mandie Landry rejoined the Louisiana Democratic Party Friday, after registering as a political independent last year to protest decisions made by the party’s leadership.
In a written statement, Landry said her decision to re-register as a Democrat followed much discussion with colleagues and was made ahead of April’s legislative session, where it will be “all hands on deck.”
“We will soon start a legislative session where we will have to address critical state issues such as taxes and insurance, while also fighting back against national forces who want to continue to use Louisiana as a battleground for extreme and harmful policies,” Landry said.
Landry switched to unaffiliated in November after losing to then-state Rep. Royce Duplessis for a state Senate seat. The Louisiana Democratic Party spent money to help elect Duplessis.
Landry has also been a vocal critic of Katie Bernhardt, chairwomen of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Landry has blasted Bernhardt on social media, accusing the chairwomen of not doing her job to raise money, motivate voters and recruit candidates, but rather focusing on promoting herself and friends.
“Like many Louisiana Democrats, I believe serious reform is needed in our state party,” Landry said Friday. “Changing my lifelong party affiliation as an elected official was a powerful way to send this message.”
Sam Jenkins, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, applauded Landry’s return, describing her as a “fighter,” a “vital member” of the caucus and an “important voice” in the legislature.
Landry’s return to the Democratic Party, which does not impact who holds power in the Republican-controlled Legislature, is the second state representative to switch political parties this month.
Last week, Francis Thompson, the state’s longest serving legislator, switched parties from Democrat to Republican. Thompson, 81, said that the GOP better aligns with the “values and principles that are part of my Christian life.”
With Thompson’s switch, Republicans gained a two-thirds supermajority in the Louisiana House. They already had a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate. The supermajority gives the GOP the power to override gubernatorial vetoes if they all vote in bloc.