State lawmaker challenges current chairman of Louisiana GOP

Louisiana

FILE – In this Aug. 13, 2019 file photo, House Republican leader Lance Harris, R-Alexandria, asks questions of Louisiana Department of Health officials about new contract awards for the Medicaid managed care program, in Baton Rouge, La. Harris, who once led the state House Republican delegation, announced Monday, Jan. 25, 2021, that he’s running to be chairman of the Louisiana GOP, challenging the current party leader. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An Alexandria lawmaker who once led the state House Republican delegation announced Monday that he’s running to be chairman of the Louisiana GOP, challenging the current party leader.

Rep. Lance Harris said he’ll seek to unseat state Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich, a New Orleans businessman who was elected to the job in 2018. Harris has a short time to campaign, with the party leadership election set for Saturday morning in Baton Rouge.

“Our party leadership needs to focus on consistency and stability, and I’m ready to help with that. I want to be transparent about the areas where we’re falling behind and do something to fix it. I want to take the areas where we’re winning and build on it,” Harris said in a statement. “This LAGOP election is about a culture change. We must ensure that our house is in order, grow our base and spread our conservative message.”

Members of the GOP’s elected governing body, the Republican State Central Committee, choose the chairman and other party leaders.

Harris, who lost his bid for a U.S. House seat in the December election, is in his third four-year term in the state House of Representatives. He worked as House GOP leader during the last term, routinely sparring with Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards over budget and tax policy.

The lawmaker said if elected in Saturday’s vote, he would be “laser-focused” on the statewide elections in 2023, particularly retaking the governor’s seat. Edwards is term-limited and can’t run for reelection.

Harris enters the Republican Party leadership competition after Eddie Rispone, the businessman who lost the governor’s race in 2019 to Edwards, dropped his challenge to Gurvich. Rispone said with his business and personal obligations, he didn’t have the time needed to revamp what he considered the party’s management flaws.

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