Louisiana Republican who opposed Constitutional Carry facing potential recall

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

A Republican lawmaker who sided with Democrat John Bel Edwards and voted against overriding the governor’s veto of Constitutional Carry legislation last year is now facing a potential recall after voters in his district filed a recall petition with the secretary of state this week.

Even before some of Rep. Joe Stagni constituents started the process to have him removed from office, other Republicans in the state were calling for “consequences” after his refusal to vote for Constitutional Carry and a bill targeting transgender athletes, with the state GOP chairman saying at the time that his votes opened the door to a primary challenge in 2023.

While that might still come to pass, it looks like Stagni is going to have to make it through a recall first.

Stagni, who served eight years on the Kenner City Council before he was elected to the state Legislature, said the petition paints a “false and misleading” portrait of his voting record.

“I have full faith and confidence in the voters of District 92 that they will see through this charade,” Stagni said in an interview.

… The petition also highlights Stagni’s opposition to Senate Bill 118, which would have allowed gunowners to carry concealed handguns without a permit or training. Edwards vetoed the bill and an override attempt also failed.

Stagni said he conducts a survey of his constituents ahead of each legislative session and determined that “most people” in his district believed gunowners should have some training to carry a concealed weapon in public.

That’s a huge dodge from Stagni, given that Louisiana law currently recognizes the right to openly carry a firearm without a license. Perhaps “most people” in Stagni’s district believe that carrying a gun while wearing a jacket over a tucked-in t-shirt is so inherently unsafe that people need a government-issued permission slip to do so, but if that’s the case I’d argue it’s up to Stagni to explain to voters why that’s an absurd position rather than simply adopting it as his own.

Those leading the recall efforts, meanwhile, think that most people who Stagni represents are more opposed to his votes against things like Constitutional Carry than the measure itself.

Jeff Crouere, a conservative radio talk show host who is serving as a spokesperson for the effort, noted that Stagni represents a district that voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 election. He questioned Stagni’s place in the party.

“Maybe you can be the only Republican against one thing, but if you’re a Republican against most thing, I think you have to ask if he’s in the right party,” Crouere said.

In order for the recall to move forward, petitioners are going to have to collect signatures from one quarter of the voters in Stagni’s district. They have six months to do so, and if they’re successful in their efforts the secretary of state will certify the recall election and it will likely be on the ballot this November.

Interestingly, Stagni hasn’t had to face the voters since he was first elected to his seat in a special election back in 2017. The Republican ran unopposed in the Republican primary in 2019, and since Democrats didn’t field a candidate either, Stagni was gifted with a full four-year term. It’s hard to gauge how much support Stagni has among the voters in his district, but we should have a much better idea once the recall signatures start coming in. I can’t imagine that being one of the main reasons why Constitutional Carry isn’t the law of the land in Louisiana is going to help Stagni hang on to his seat, but maybe Gov. Edwards will help him land a cushy job with the state if the recall is successful in removing him from office.