John Bel Edwards
Dear Commons Community,
NBC News and the New York Times are projecting that Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards will win a second term as Louisiana governor, beating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone by 1.4 percentage points and delivering another blow in off-cycle elections to President Donald Trump.
Gov. Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, overcame the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to help Mr. Edward’s Republican challenger and demonstrate his own clout.
It was the second blow at the ballot box for Mr. Trump this month in a Republican-leaning state, following the Democratic victory in the Kentucky governor’s race, where the president also campaigned for the G.O.P. candidate.
In Louisiana, Mr. Trump had wagered significant political capital to try to lift Eddie Rispone, a businessman who ran against Mr. Edwards in large part by embracing the president and his agenda. Mr. Trump campaigned for Mr. Rispone twice in the final two weeks of the race, warning Louisiana voters that a loss would reflect poorly on his presidency — the same appeal he made in Kentucky earlier this month to try to help Gov. Matt Bevin, who ultimately lost.
Of the three governor’s races this year, all in deep red states, Republicans won only one, in Mississippi. Republicans also lost control of both chambers of the state legislature in Virginia, where many Democratic candidates were sharply critical of Mr. Trump. As reported by NBC News.
Edwards was up by over 19,000 votes with 96% of precincts reporting Saturday night, according to the Associated Press.
Edwards’ victory in a state that Trump carried in 2016 by nearly 20 percentage points highlights the limitations of nationalizing local races. Rispone, a wealthy businessman and long-time Republican donor, tied himself to Trump. He often railed against illegal immigrants on the campaign trail and portrayed Edwards as a “liberal, socialist-leaning governor.”
But Edwards, a conservative Democrat, managed to remain fairly popular by frequently breaking with national Democrats. He signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country, favored gun rights, and touted his willingness to work with Republicans, including Trump.
Edwards also earned a level of good will in his first term for his focus on local issues, such as ending the budget crisis created by his predecessor and expanding Medicaid.
Louisiana is the second reliably red state that voted for Trump to elect a Democrat as governor in the past month. Kentucky elected Attorney General Andy Beshear over GOP incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, despite Trump’s campaign efforts in the state.
Edwards was a top target for the GOP as the Republican National Committee spent $2 million to defeat him and Trump visited the state three times in five weeks to support Rispone.
Before the polls closed Saturday, Trump tweeted multiple times encouraging voters to support Rispone.
‘Louisiana, 3 hours left, get out and Vote for @EddieRispone for Governor. Lower taxes and much more!’
Edwards narrowly missed the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright win in the October jungle primary, in which every candidate runs against each other on the same ballot regardless of party. He earned 46 percent of the vote, Rispone 27 percent and Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., roughly 23 percent.
Although Abraham endorsed and campaigned for Rispone in the runoff, it was not enough to push the Republican over the finish line.”
Congratulations to Governor Edwards!