NEW ORLEANS -- Two New Orleans voters filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to disqualify a candidate for Orleans Parish Civil District Court who is running as a Democrat, even though state voting records show him as a registered Republican.
Rick Duplantier qualified to run in the special election to fill the district court's open Division A seat on Jan. 4. That's when he filed a sworn statement attesting that he is a registered Democrat.
But two registered Democrats from New Orleans, Marie Breaux and Timon Webre, filed a petition Monday to have Duplantier disqualified based on Secretary of State records showing that Duplantier was actually registered as a Republican on Jan. 4 when he qualified, and that he was still listed as a Republican on Monday.
The lawsuit cites a 2014 case where a state judge candidate, Mona Rita Joseph, was disqualified because she declared herself as a Democrat when her voter registration records said she had no party affiliation.
In a telephone interview with WWL-TV, Duplantier said he was still trying to figure out why he would have been registered as a Republican when he thought he'd been a registered Democrat for at least 15 years.
“I have been voting in closed Democratic primaries for years,” a mystified Duplantier said. “I registered as a Republican right out of high school and as far as I know, I changed it at least 15 years ago. Anybody who knows me knows I'm a Democrat.”
Duplantier said that by the time he heard about the lawsuit, which was filed at 3:20 p.m. on Monday, the Secretary of State and Orleans Parish Registrar's Office were both closed. He said he hoped to clear things up with those offices Tuesday.
“It's a mere technicality,” he said. “If I can't fix the error, I may have to withdraw. If that happens, it will be a campaign delayed, but not denied.”
Duplantier is one of four candidates in the March 24 special election to fill the seat left vacant when Judge Tiffany Chase was elected to the state's 4th Circuit Court of Appeal in October.