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Louisiana's Departing GOP Rep. Graves Planning Comeback

John Gizzi By Monday, 17 June 2024 07:09 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In a surprise move late Friday, five-term Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., announced he would not seek reelection this year.

Stalwart conservative Graves explained that running again "does not make sense" because of a Supreme Court ruling in May upholding a lower court decision that makes his 6th District (Baton Rouge) one of two Black-majority U.S. House districts in the Pelican State.

But Louisiana Republicans who spoke to Newsmax on background unanimously agreed Graves would devote his time out of office next year to planning a challenge to Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., in 2026. Cassidy was one of seven Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 controversy and was promptly censured by the state Republican Party.

Graves is also expected, sources told us, to lobby hard for ending Louisiana's 52-year-old "jungle primary" — one in which candidates compete on the same ballot in November regardless of party and the top two vote-getters meet in a runoff — and replacing it with a closed primary.

Under such circumstances, Garrett would be favored to received the blessing of the state GOP committee and would be a favorite over two-term Sen. Cassidy.

In a statement released Friday, Graves ruled running against a fellow Republican in another district because "campaigning in any of these districts now is not fair to any of the Louisianans who will inevitably be tossed into yet another district next year" — a suggestion the redistricting battle that has waged in court in Louisiana for more than two years is not over.

The plan that the high court upheld transformed his district from one that is 26% Black to one that is 54% Black.

A onetime staffer for House Democrats and chair of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (in which he negotiated the settlement with British Petroleum over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill), Graves has long been regarded as bright and ambitious. As one of the top lieutenants to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Louisianan was his quarterback on the tumultuous House vote to raise the debt ceiling and thus avert a worldwide financial crisis.

But Graves, sources told us, was also known to play rough. When McCarthy was brought down as speaker by a vote of the full House, the same sources said Graves worked behind the scenes to thwart the speakership campaign of his fellow Louisianan, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La. Scalise was unable to muster the votes of the full GOP Conference to win the speakership, which eventually went to another Louisianan Mike Johnson.

"Graves should not have done that — especially since his friend McCarthy was out of the picture when Steve decided to run for speaker," a former House member who requested anonymity told Newsmax.

"He even unearthed that old story in which Steve was quoted as comparing himself to David Duke — and that story has long been discredited — and spread it around."

Had Graves sought to remain in the House by challenging another Republican member, it is very likely Scalise, Johnson, and the other Louisiana Republican lawmakers would have backed his opponent. But Graves kept them from having to make that decision and is most likely to now take his career in a new direction.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
In a surprise move late Friday, five-term Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., announced he would not seek reelection this year.
lousiana, house, senate, gop, reelection, garrett graves, bill cassidy
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2024-09-17
Monday, 17 June 2024 07:09 AM
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