Republican women in office say Louisiana’s GOP could do more to attract, support candidates

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State Sen. Sharon Hewitt addresses fellow lawmakers in the Louisiana Legislature. (Photo credit: Sarah Gamard, LSU Manship School News Service)

Published: Mar. 15, 2019

By: Abbie Shull, LSU Manship School News Service

Even though Republicans dominate Louisiana politics, only one GOP woman, Suzanne Terrell, has ever held statewide elected office. Her term as elections commissioner ended in 2004.

Terrell and three Republican women serving in the Legislature say their party could be doing more to recruit women to run for office.

“You don’t know if someone is good because they aren’t in office yet,” Terrell said. “I’m not saying to vote for a candidate just because they’re a woman, but the Republicans don’t know all the capable people out there because the party hasn’t tried.”

While female Democrats saw record-breaking success nationally in 2018, Republican women have had much more limited success in running for office. In Louisiana, some say they have struggled to find a place in the state’s traditional “boys’ club” political structure.

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, an engineer and manager at Shell Oil for nearly 35 years, had chaired a parish recreation board when she started her first campaign for the state Senate in 2015. She said she was openly discouraged from seeking office.

Hewitt said the campaign manager of her Republican opponent, Pete Schneider, called her and said that “the powers that be met in Slidell and decided that it was my opponent’s seat.”


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