Opelousas senator jumps to the Republican Party

Baton Rouge, La.  (AP) - Opelousas Sen. Elbert Guillory has jumped to the Republican Party, becoming Louisiana's only black state senator in the GOP. Guillory announced Friday that he's leaving the Democratic Party.

Meg Casper, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's Office, said Guillory filed paperwork on Wednesday registering as a Republican. The move wasn't entirely surprising. Guillory often votes conservatively on social issues, and he's been a regular ally of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

He was registered Republican previously, switching to the Democratic Party in December 2006, before running for a legislative seat. The chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana, Roger Villere, praised Guillory's party switch, while the Louisiana Democratic Party called it a "craven display of political opportunism."

The chair of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus said the political party change won't oust Guillory from the caucus, which otherwise includes only Democrats. "A member's party affiliation is of no moment to his or her membership as a LLBC member. Sen. Guillory remains a full-fledged member of our caucus," Rep. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, said in a statement.

An attorney, Guillory is in his second term in the Louisiana Senate and is chairman of the Senate Retirement Committee. He had previously served two years in the House of Representatives. He represents the 24th District, a majority black district covering parts of Lafayette and St. Landry parishes.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)