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Louisiana Democrats’ fundraiser comes amid recruitment push

Louisiana’s Democratic Party is preparing to host its large annual fundraiser, with an eye toward recruiting a deeper bench of candidates and proving that Gov. John Bel Edwards’ capture of statewide office three years ago wasn’t a fluke.

When the party faithful gathers Friday night in a Baton Rouge hotel ballroom for the True Blue Gala, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe intends to tell them Louisiana can make strong strides in boosting the Democrats in elected office, like his home state did.

“I think we have a huge opportunity to pick up seats,” McAuliffe tells The Associated Press. “Democrats can win in Louisiana, like they did in Virginia, when you’re focused on helping the common people.”

Louisiana’s six U.S. House seats are on the ballot in November, along with a special race to fill the secretary of state’s job. But the bigger election comes a year later, when seven statewide positions are on Louisiana’s ballot, along with the 144 state legislative seats. Edwards will be fighting for re-election, with Republicans trying to unseat him, and term limits will create tremendous turnover in the state House and Senate.

The Louisiana Democratic Party has launched training sessions aimed at attracting people to run for office, work on campaigns and volunteer for progressive causes. However, GOP leaders say the Democrats are overreaching in a state growing redder.

Republicans have won 17 of the last 18 statewide races in Louisiana, capturing every statewide elected position in Louisiana, besides the governor’s seat. The state House and Senate are overwhelmingly Republican, and every U.S. House seat but one is held by the GOP.

Louis Gurvich, chairman of the state Republican Party, says while the president excites “emotions on both sides, friendly and hostile,” he doesn’t see running against Trump as a winning premise for a Louisiana candidate.

Gurvich expects a “red wave” in the next rounds of elections, adding: “I think the citizens of Louisiana will favor the Republican approach over the Democrat approach.”

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