Louisiana Democratic Party selects new chairman

Randal Gaines, a 68-year-old former Louisiana state representative, was selected Saturday as the next head of the deep-red Pelican State's Democratic Party.

The Louisiana Democratic Party has new leadership.

Randal Gaines, a former state representative, was selected Saturday as the political group's new chair after a set of procedural moves ended with him being the only candidate nominated for the position. His selection ousted Katie Bernhardt, who had been chair for the past four years, The Advocate reported.


"It is critical that we use this unifying, watershed moment to rebuild, refocus, and recruit the leaders of tomorrow to address the concerns that are top of mind for residents in every corner of our state," Gaines said in a statement afterward.

Bernhardt, in an interview with the newspaper, expressed no ill will at Saturday’s result.

"He should have the support of everyone in the Democratic Party," Bernhardt said of Gaines. "There are elections in November, and we need to keep our eye on electing Democrats and not fighting each other."

Bernhardt had faced criticism since last fall’s elections, when Jeff Landry was elected governor and Republicans won a super-majority in both the House and the Senate. Republicans now hold all statewide offices and a 73-32 advantage in the House and a 28-11 majority in the Senate. Democrats in Louisiana have not held so few seats in more than 100 years.

Gaines, 68, termed out of the state House last year after serving 12 years representing LaPlace. He became known to party activists by spending the past four years as one of the party's two liaisons with the Democratic National Committee.

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