Fresh news potentially impacting the RNC Chairman's race in a big way tonight: Roger Villere, Jr., Chairman of the Louisiana GOP, has announced he is running for RNC Co-Chair.
This is, to be blunt, a big deal given the RNC rule to ensure gender balance in leadership. Some of the 168 who ultimately will vote in the RNC Chairman's race have expressed reluctance to support either Ann Wagner or Maria Cino for the top job in view of the rule, and the lack of declared male candidates for the Co-Chair position. Villere's announcement therefore presents the possibility of the race being shaken up some as that situation changes (assuming that those previously expressing reluctance to support the ladies on gender grounds were being honest in their explanations as to why they were cagey about doing so).
Villere's letter as sent to those casting the votes, and as provided to me earlier tonight by a favorite (but sadly anonymous) source, is below. As an aside, I'd note that Villere's explanation as to why he considers it worthwhile to throw his hat in the ring arguably indicates the opposite of what some RNC observers have been muttering in recent days: That there is no path to victory for either Wagner or Cino, and that this is a Priebus-Anuzis race now. Sure, Villere could run just for the heck of it when he's secretly confident he'll lose-- but that seems like an unlikely explanation for this move. And my guess is, him running will shake loose some support for both Wagner and Cino.
Fellow Members, Republican National Committee:
I write today to inform you that I will be a candidate for Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee if, at the time the election is conducted, it is in order under Rule 5(a) for a male RNC member to have his name placed in nomination. I humbly ask for your vote and support.
As you know, Rule 5(a) provides for the election of “a chairman and a co-chairman of the opposite sex,” so I will be permitted to run only if a woman is elected as Chairman. Also please note that I am not running against Jan Larimer or Sharon Day for Co-Chairman since The Rules of the Republican Party do not permit us all to be on the ballot simultaneously. I am therefore seeking commitments from all of you, including those who have already endorsed Sharon or Jan, since there is, in reality, no conflict.
The RNC will conduct an election for Chairman next week among five announced candidates; three men and two women. There is a reasonable chance that the election will continue for three to six ballots and that a female candidate will win. In fact, a thoughtful evaluation of the results of previous multi-ballot elections recently circulated among our membership shows that the election of a female as Chairman is a distinct possibility. Therefore, I believe that it is time for a man who can competently perform the job of Co-Chairman to step forward. I ask for your consideration of my candidacy and record.
I have been a registered Republican in Louisiana since the 1970’s and politically active on a consistent basis for more than 25 years. I live in suburban New Orleans with my wife of 40 years, Donna. We have three adult sons and four granddaughters. We own a small business with 40-50 employees, Villere’s Florist. My sons all work for our company and have begun running the business during the past three years, relieving me of the bulk of my responsibilities. We are Catholics and Saints fans, which, in New Orleans , are almost synonymous :) Our family has resided in Louisiana for seven generations and my great-great-great grandfather was governor.
I was first elected to the RNC in 1997, serving for three years as National Committeeman and later for four terms as State Chairman from Louisiana . I have consistently attended the RNC meetings, served on various committees, built relationships with dozens of members and visited RNC headquarters on many occasions. I have attended four national conventions and was Louisiana Chairman for the Electoral College. My team and I produced the 2010 Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which attracted 3,000 people, the nation’s top Republican speakers and worldwide media coverage. I offer you the diverse experience and institutional knowledge necessary to be a strong co-chairman who is ready to lead on Day 1 and serve as an effective partner for our new chairman.
Regarding my political philosophy: I believe that the issue of our day is to stop the out-of-control spending by the Federal government.
I am anti-tax, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-defense and pro-Second Amendment. I can support our entire platform and I do so enthusiastically.
I have a close working relationship with the Tea Party in Louisiana .
In fact, ten years ago, I organized four tea party protests across Louisiana to oppose a tax increase. I have been a leading advocate of the Republican Party reaching out to African-Americans to gain a higher percentage of their votes for our candidates. I have been at the forefront of reaching out to the Asian-American community and electing Asian-American Republicans to major office.
Louisiana was a dark blue state that recently turned bright red. When I was elected as state chairman in March 2004, Republicans held 1 of 7 statewide offices and 4 of 7 congressional seats in Louisiana . Today, we hold 6 of 7 statewide offices and 6 of 7 congressional seats. In November 2004, Louisiana elected its first Republican US Senator since the 1800’s. Four years ago, Democrats held roughly a 2-1 margin in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Four weeks ago, Republicans took control of the House.
When the Republican Revolution of the 1990’s swept across the rest of the South, it missed Louisiana . Ours was arguably the most corrupt blue state in America , electing Edwin Edwards as Governor four times and supporting Bill Clinton in both of his elections. Traditional Democrat constituencies and labor unions controlled Louisiana and voter fraud was rampant.
When I became state chairman in March 2004, our state party was defeated and divided. Our donors were discouraged and our volunteers were angry. I’ve worked hard every day for seven years. I’ve been personally involved in the candidate recruitment, the fundraising, the Victory programs, the advocacy mail, the strategy, the coalition building and the GOTV. The state party has raised nearly ten million dollars and literally has been the margin of victory in many of the targeted elections.
As Co-Chairman, my new job description would be defined in part by the new Chairman, especially since the Co-Chairman’s office traditionally houses women’s programs and our current Co-Chairman is a woman. With that said, let me tell you what I’d like to focus on if elected.
I am committed to preserving and expanding all women’s programs currently being conducted by the office. I will be personally involved on a daily basis, but will also ask the women who have offered themselves as candidates for Co-Chairman to work closely with me on an ongoing basis so that my election does not in any way diminish the RNC’s commitment to gaining the votes of more women, electing more women to public office and being sensitive to political issues that concern women in particular.
I would like to devote a lot of my time to working directly with state chairmen. After 7 years on the job, I’m still learning things every day. But I have some experience and I think I could be a resource to state chairmen across the country, particularly those who are newly elected. That’s where I believe I can best be of service.
I will be arriving in DC on Monday evening and look forward to having lunch, dinner or drinks with you and personally asking for your votes.
Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy.
Roger F. Villere, Jr.
Republican Party of Louisiana