The Louisiana Republican Party took the rare step of endorsing Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) out of several GOP candidates vying to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D).
The state party announced it would be throwing its full support and resources behind the three-term lawmaker, as they geared up for a top GOP target in the midterm elections.
Roger Villere, head of the state GOP, noted Saturday that such an early endorsement is an “extraordinary move” for the group. The last time the party decided to endorse a candidate when several Republicans were still in the running was when it backed then-Rep. Bobby Jindal ahead of his successful gubernatorial bid.
“It is an extraordinary move for our state party to endorse a candidate. But because of who he is and what he’s done, Bill has the support of an overwhelming majority of our state central committee,” he said.
The rare move also underlines how critical this neck-and-neck race is for Republican hopes to take over the Senate. Landrieu is a top target for Republicans, who hope to win enough seats to take control of the chamber, and Villere highlighted that fact.
“We can’t afford to miss this opportunity. We need our strongest team on the field, with every possible advantage behind them,” he said.
The party’s endorsement comes while there are still several other Republicans vying to become the state’s next senator. While Cassidy has emerged as the party’s clear front-runner, state Rep. Paul Hollis and retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness are both in the running.
Louisiana functions under a “jungle primary” system, in which all candidates, regardless of party appear on the same ballot. If no single candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters face off in a runoff election.