Bouillion party switch makes for all-GOP judge's race

by Nathan Stubbs

Lafayette City Court Judge Francie Bouillion changed political parties last month, switching from a no-party independent to a Republican.

Lafayette City Court Judge Francie Bouillion changed political parties last month, switching from a no-party independent to a Republican, according to records with the Lafayette Registrar of Voters. Bouillion mailed in her request to change parties to the registrar's office; her Republican Party affiliation became official May 10.

Bouillion's switch makes for an all-GOP field of announced candidates in the race for 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal judge. Bouillion is vying for the post, left vacant by the passing of Judge Mike Sullivan, along with 15th Judicial District Judge Phyllis Keaty, and attorneys Steven "Buzz" Durio and Jeanne Laborde. Qualifying for the race is next month. The 3rd Circuit Section 5A, located entirely within Lafayette Parish, is widely regarded as conservative, with voters who trend Republican.

"I had been a Republican," Bouillion says, "until just before the time I became a judge and I became an independent at that time mostly because I thought judges should be independent, and I still think that."

"However," she continues, "as the years have gone by, it's gotten very difficult for people to identify with you if you don't have a party." Bouillion notes that on the ballot, all independents are simply identified with an "o," which stands for "other party." "That can mean anything from libertarian to communist to green to independent," Bouillion says, "and it's just too difficult for people to identify what your judicial philosophy is, so I decided to return to the Republican Party."

According to the Lafayette Registrar of Voters, Bouillion originally registered to vote in 1978. The scanned card that shows her party affiliation at the time is illegible. However, a separate record shows Bouillion first changed her party affiliation with the local registrar's office in 1991, switching from no party to Republican. The following year, in 1992, the registrar's records show she switched back from Republican to no party. On May 10, 2010, she again became Republican.

Bouillion was first elected a Lafayette city judge in April of 1994 and was re-elected in 1996, 2002 and 2008. She ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd Circuit in 2004 as an independent in a wider mulit-parish district. Despite the fact that her husband, Ken Bouillion, is treasurer of the Lafayette Parish Democratic Executive Committee, Judge Bouillion says her most recent party change hasn't caused any commotion at home. "If Mary Matalin and James Carville can do it, so can we," she says.