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The newly minted Republican may be changing parties, but he has long been known for his right-of-center stance on issues. A frequent ally of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, Mr. Guillory has regularly broken ranks with Democrats to side with Republicans in the Legislature.

“It caught [Democrats] by surprise, but it has not been a warm and close fit,” Mr. Guillory said. “They’ve wanted me to toe the line, and I am nobody’s boy. I serve the Lord first and then my district. Party is way down that list.”

What prompted the switch? He credits his 103-year-old mother, who called him after hearing a Democratic state senator accuse foes of “Obamacare” of racism.

“She was appalled by that statement, and called me and said, ‘Elbert Lee! I hope you’re not involved with any of that,’” Mr. Guillory said. “That’s what finally pushed me over the edge.”

His district is about 65 percent Democrat, but he doesn’t anticipate any problems with voters when he comes up for re-election in 2016.

“The Democratic Party has really moved to the left of Louisiana,” Mr. Guillory said. “Louisiana is pretty moderate, and the Democratic Party is not. They’ve just moved so far from basic American and Louisiana values.