Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards Forced into a Runoff

Almost unnoticed due to the news’ fixation on impeachment, Ukraine, and the war in Syria, an election took place in Louisiana that some pundits suggest may be an early test of President Trump’s political strength going into 2020. According to Fox News, Louisiana’s Democratic governor John Bel Edwards faced a range of rival candidates in that state’s so-called “jungle primary.” Governor Edwards, having failed to get just over 50 percent in the election, will now face Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in a runoff election on November 16.

Louisiana holds its “jungle primary” every election during which every candidate from every party is lumped together and compete against one another. In this case, the candidates who mattered were Edwards, Rispone, and a Republican congressman named Ralph Abraham. Edwards got 46.6 percent of the vote, Rispone 27.4 percent, and Abraham 23.6 percent.

The Resurgent suggests that this result is good news for the Republicans. If the GOP can turn out the same number of voters for Rispone, they should be able to take the governorship. Louisiana Republicans also have hope because they consider Edwards’ election in 2015 a fluke. The Democrat had the good fortune to run against David Vitter, then a United States senator who had been embroiled in a prostitution scandal. After being defeated in the race for governor, Vitter declined to run for a second term as a senator. He was succeeded by the ironically named for a southern Republican named John Kennedy.

Edwards has an advantage because he is pro-life, pro-gun, and supports President Trump on several issues. Nevertheless, he is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.

The reason the November 16 election is an early test for President Trump is that he appeared at a massive rally in Lake Charles, Louisiana the night before, partly to tour his reelection, albeit in a state he carried by double digits in 2016, but also to urge Louisianans to replace Edwards with a Republican. Trump was careful not to favor either Rispone or Abraham but had both to make brief remarks at the rally.

The president’s remarks were classic Trump, amped up a little bit more than has previously been the case. He accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of “hating America.” He suggested that the House Democrats were only pursuing impeachment because they know that they can’t beat him at the polls, “so they’re pursuing an illegal, unconstitutional bulls— impeachment.”

Trump has started to drop in a little salty language in his stump speeches. The previous night, at a similar rally in Minneapolis, he suggested that Joe Biden’s success at being vice president stemmed from the fact that he knew how “to kiss Obama’s a–/”

The use of bad language has gotten the president some criticism from the media, but according to Fox News, the crowds roared with approval. Trump may have been using a rhetorical technique from General George Patton, who used to give soldiers he was addressing orders that were “hard and dirty” so that they can remember them better.

After hitting some of the standard Democratic targets, Trump turned to the matter of the election that was scheduled to occur the following day. “Tomorrow you will head to the polls and vote to replace a liberal Democrat who has sold you out, John Bel Edwards, with a great Republican governor.”

Then the president invited both Rispone and Abraham up on the stage with him. Before each man spoke, Trump gave them some last-minute instructions. “You’re not allowed to hit your Republican opponent, you’re only allowed to hit John Bel Edwards.”

The strategy seems to have worked, considering the results of the election that took place the following day. Hot Air suggests that what happens on November 16 depends on several factors, including how good a candidate Rispone is, what sort of opposition research is out there about him, and how much coattails President Trump has. The article leaves us with the following thought:

“Except as a possible bellwether for next November, the final result probably won’t change all that much for people outside of Louisiana. It’s not as if Edwards is any sort of far-left, socialist Democrat. Most of the other national Democrats don’t really even want to be seen standing next to him. He’s about as conservative as you can get while still having a ‘D’ after your name. But as I said, this might turn out to be an interesting test of how well Donald Trump’s influence is holding up with the base as the impeachment follies drag on.”