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Nungesser condemns party leadership

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BATON ROUGE - A growing schism in the Louisiana Republican Party landed on the airwaves of a New Orleans radio station Thursday, when Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser unloaded on Chairman Louis Gurvich, calling on him to resign.

The public venting of frustrations took place on the Newell Normand program on WWL AM.

There, Nungesser signaled his distaste for what he characterized as strongman tactics designed to help current Attorney General Jeff Landry ascend to the office of governor. Gurvich and the state party apparatus threw their support to Landry when he announced his campaign. He was the first major candidate in the race, and the early endorsement was seen as an effort to dissuade others from running.

That didn't sit well with some, including Nungesser.

"He is disgrace to the RepublicaParty. He's disgrace to Louisiana. Hought to resign," Nungesser said, before turning his focus to reports this week suggesting that party leaders were now angling to keep U.S. Rep. Garret Graves from entering the fray.

"Snow, with the thought that Garret Graves might run, they're making calls again," he said. "got three calls last night -- and bacto their old threats, promises whatever it takes to browbeat people."

Graves is reportedly close to announcing his own decision, and those close to the situation believe top GOP officials are urging him not to run against Landry.

A representative of Landry's campaign tells WBRZ that frustrations from Nungesser -- and others -- are misguided. He said the party endorsement wasn't a "top-down" dictate, but followed an effort initiated by Landry's team to rally support from members of the Central Committee all across the state.

That effort, the representative said, produced the majority support that, in turn, led to an early party endorsement.

Nungesser recently declared his intentions to run for reelection as lt. governor -- a move that surprised insiders that saw him as a viable challenger to Landry.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy also opted out earlier this month. Several lesser-known candidates followed by entering the race. The roster now includes State Treasurer John Schroder, State Sen. Sharon Hewitt and State Rep. Richard Nelson.

WBRZ News 2 has reached out to the state Republican Party but did not receive a response as of Thursday evening.

No major Democratic candidate has yet declared his or her candidacy. Current Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, is prohibited by law from seeking another term in office.

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