When former state representative Damon Baldone walked into the Terrebonne Parish Registrar’s office on Monday, he didn’t think he was doing anything unprecedented.
Baldone, who represented District 53 from 2001 until 2012 as a Democrat, wants to change his party affiliation. So he filled out a form that asked which party he wanted to switch to. “There’s five recognized parties in Louisiana, of which democrat and republican are two. It says you can only circle one. I circled both of them," he says.
He was told he couldn’t choose both. Instead, he was registered as “other” - a category for unrecognized political parties in Louisiana.
His political views, he says, "have always been the same and have crossed the spectrum of both Democrat and Republican parties. And I’m just tired of the party politics and the fighting. I figured it’s best that we can move forward if we can work together. And the best way for me to work together is to belong to both parties."
Baldone will be running for another term in the House this year. If elected, he thinks having access to both sides of the aisle will be to his advantage. Typically, he explains, "when there’s a big issue that comes up, there’s a caucus meeting which means the Democrats meet in one room and the Republicans meet in one room. I want to be able to attend both of them."
Baldone believes it’s his constitutional right to affiliate with however many political parties he chooses. And so he filed a lawsuit against the Terrebonne Parish Registrar of Voters on Tuesday, asking the court to order the Registrar to allow his dual registration.
As far as he can tell, there's no record of a case like this one. "Definitely hasn’t been done in Louisiana as far as we know, and can’t see that it’s been done in the country,” he says.
The case will be heard on Friday in the 32nd Judicial District.