(8 Electoral Votes; 30 Delegates)
Chair: Ross Little Jr.
Like Delaware, Louisiana hoped to share in the publicity showered on the early primary states by holding presidential caucuses on Feb. 6, a week before the Iowa presidential caucuses.
But Louisiana's caucuses were sparsely attended and virtually ignored by most of the contenders except Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan and former radio talk show host Alan Keyes. So, while the early event did not make Louisiana a kingmaker, it did establish which candidate would anchor the field on the right.
The caucuses, part of the state GOP's two-tier delegate selection process, severely wounded Gramm, who was thought a shoo-in favorite after helping to engineer the new system. Instead, it was Buchanan who came away with 13 of the 21 delegates chosen in the district caucuses. Gramm followed with eight delegates. The remaining nine at-large delegates went to Bob Dole after his victory in the state's presidential primary held March 12.
The delegation is a staunchly conservative group. Delegates approved a resolution, circulated by the National Republican Coalition for Life, that called on the delegates to oppose any changes to the current anti-abortion plank in the party's platform.
"There is a large conservative, pro-family, pro-life constituency" in the delegation, said Ross Little Jr., a longtime party activist from Lafayette, who is chairing the Pelican State's delegation to San Diego. Little was elected as a Gramm delegate but says that "I don't see how there is anything to do except support Dole for president."
Overall, the delegation is heavy with party activists but includes few elected officials. State party Chairman Mike Francis asked GOP members of Congress, who have floor privileges anyway, to leave the delegate spots for others.
The delegation includes former state Sen. Ben Bagert, who ran against Democratic Sen. J. Bennett Johnston in 1990. Bagert had the party's backing in that contest but was underfinanced and quit under pressure from GOP officials before the open primary in order to avert a runoff between Johnston and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Other delegates include Sally S. Campbell, state director of the Christian Coalition; Billy Nungesser, former chief of staff to ex-GOP Gov. David C. Treen and past delegate to the last five national conventions; and E. Clark Gaudin, a former state legislator and another veteran of past national conventions.
By Juliana Gruenwald
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