State Rep. Fred Mills, R-Parks, a GOP newbie who switched parties a few weeks ago and most recently announced his intention to seek the state Senate District 22 seat vacated by Troy Hebert, is being labeled a RINO — Republican In Name Only — by a conservative blogger. Suspicion of Mills’ motive in switching parties was already foreshadowed in the comment section at theind.com, and it’s a sentiment that could gain traction in what will be a short campaign. (The election will be held Jan. 22; other candidates to qualify are Republican Simone Champagne of Jeanerette; David Groner and Ruben LeBlanc, both of New Iberia and neither with party affililation; and Republicans Arnold Schwing of New Iberia and Ken Squires of Jeanerette.)

Seen in some circles as mere political expediency — Democrats just can’t catch a break in Louisiana’s current political climate — Mills’ party switch is increasingly becoming a topic in the blogosphere, most recently in a post titled “The Fred Mills File” at a site called Cajun Conservatism; the post was picked up by the right-leaning aggregator website The Dead Pelican.

Cajun Conservatism highlights political contributions by Mills ranging from $50 to $500 in 2008 and 2009 to Democratic politicians, Cedric Richmond and Don Cravins Jr. among them, as well as to the House Democratic Campaign Committee. The site also points to votes by Mills it considers antithetical to conservative principles, including voting against a bill that would require welfare recipients to be drug tested and a bill that would use public dollars for private school tuition vouchers.

The post further opines, “Fred Mills’ recent switch to the Republican Party prior to his qualifying for the special election for the District 22 Senate seat should leave one to question his true conservative principles. A cursory look at both his past political contributions and voting records show someone who is far from being within the mainstream Republican Party. Do we need another RINO to represent the people of District 22 in Baton Rouge?”

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