Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards came close to outright victory on Saturday, but fell just short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. This pits Edwards against Republican Eddie Rispone in a head to head battle on November 16.
Governor Edwards acknowledged there’s a tough fight ahead:
So make no mistake about it and prepare yourselves, because over the next five weeks, the partisan forces in Washington DC are going to pull out all the stops. There is nothing they won’t say or do to try to win this election.
This is where we come in. The spin is already out there.
Trump immediately claimed credit:
Local WWL-TV Political Analyst Clancy DuBos points out that Rispone has been banking on Trump to boost his campaign:
“He knows what he has to do to win. He started off his campaign by saying, ‘I’m Eddie Rispone and I love Donald Trump.’ He’s going to say Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Fox News has raised questions about whether Edwards will be able to defeat Rispone in a head-to-head election. Rispone polled at just 28%, but that was in a six-candidate field that included Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a third-term congressman who was widely considered to be the Republican front runner.
Local pundits were critical of Governor Edwards, claiming his camp were taken by surprise on Saturday, and that he’s already looking slow off the blocks because he failed to attack Rispone directly in Saturday’s speech.
So how can we help counter the spin?
We know this race is important. It’s one of three Governors’ races the Democratic Party hopes to win in deep in “Trump country” in 2019.
We’ll need to deal with some challenges generating grassroots support for Edwards because he is a moderate Democrat. He has tried to distance himself from national politics. Edwards takes more conservative positions on abortion and gun restrictions.
We’ll need to rely on our collective experience of the nuances that come with working on campaigns in red and purple states. There are positives in Edwards’ record to draw on. In the words of one voter interviewed by WWL- TV: “I just think he’s done a good job. He’s a good mix of Republican and Democrat.”
Governor Edwards highlights his record of working across the aisle to get things done. One notable example: he championed bipartisan reform of criminal sentencing laws, and as a result, Louisiana no longer has the highest incarceration rates in the nation.
There’s no doubt Edwards has broken down barriers to fix a broken situation in Louisiana. A good way to counter spin is to focus on a solid set of facts.
Governor Edwards’ key achievements since 2015 make it easy:
- Stabilized state finances – three years of budget surplus, after the former Republican governor had driven the budget into deficit.
- The first statewide teacher raise in a decade.
- Investments in public college education.
- Added nearly a half-million people to the Medicaid program. Louisiana’s uninsured rate is now below the national average.
Governor Edwards has worked hard for change, and he’s prepared to fight hard to stop the Republicans from taking Louisiana back “into the ditch” on November 16.
But friends, understand this. The progress we have made is still at stake. It took all of us to put Louisiana back on a path to opportunity and prosperity. But it only takes one person putting Washington-style politics over the people of Louisiana to reverse everything that we have worked so hard together to accomplish. And my fellow Louisianans, we are not going back.
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