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Weekend Reads In Louisiana, a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump

09:25  17 november  2019
09:25  17 november  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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John Bel Edwards of Louisiana , a rare Democratic governor in the South, was re-elected for a second term 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.

Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards narrowly won reelection, CNN projected Saturday night, beating out Republican challenger Eddie Rispone, who was backed by President Donald Trump .

John Bel Edwards John Bel Edwards

BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, narrowly won re-election Saturday, overcoming the intervention of President Trump, who visited the state multiple times in an effort to lift the Republicans and demonstrate his own clout.

The result was just as much a stinging rebuke for Mr. Trump, who had wagered significant political capital on the race in an effort to lift Eddie Rispone, the Republican nominee. The president 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. That appeal was insufficient, just as it was in Kentucky earlier this month, where Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, was defeated despite an election eve visit from Mr. Trump. Of the three governor’s races in deep red states this year, Republicans won only one, in Mississippi.

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John Bel Edwards was called the “accidental governor” when he was first elected to lead Louisiana four years ago. After winning again, no one is calling him Instead, he provided a glimpse of political shifts, however modest, in Louisiana and an intriguing case study for national Democrats, at a time

When Bel Edwards was first elected in 2015, he lost the The problem for Trump is that his standing has stabilized at a point with his approval rating consistently 40-45% at best and a Trump might manage that feat in just enough of the few genuine swing states to win an Electoral College majority.

The victory was a deeply personal one for Mr. Edwards, a conservative Democrat in a state and region where his party can often be a disqualifier in statewide races. He campaigned on his accomplishments in office, like balancing the budget, increasing education spending and expanding Medicaid. He also highlighted his conservative stances on abortion and guns and showcased his background as a West Point graduate and son of a sheriff, to appeal to right-leaning voters.

In his victory speech, Mr. Edwards said, “Our shared love for Louisiana is always more important than the partisan differences that sometimes divide us. And as for the president: God bless his heart.”

Before the election, Mr. Rispone, a construction magnate from Baton Rouge, had never before run for political office. He vaulted ahead after more prominent Republicans decided against running and became competitive against the governor after cloaking himself in Mr. Trump’s popularity.

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John Bel Edwards will win the hard -fought and deeply negative battle for the Louisiana governorship against Republican Democrat John Bel Edwards wins Louisiana governor's race. By David Mark, CNN. Trump trolls Dianne Feinstein over alleged spy. Trump defends son's meeting with Russians.

President Donald Trump rallied for a pair of GOP contenders in the Louisiana gubernatorial race Friday night in Lake Charles. He accused incumbent Democrat

The results indicated that many voters here were happy with the incumbent.

a person wearing a suit and tie walking on a stage: President Donald Trump and Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for governor, at a campaign rally in Bossier City, La., on Thursday.© Doug Mills/The New York Times President Donald Trump and Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for governor, at a campaign rally in Bossier City, La., on Thursday.

And on a night when the attention of many Louisianans was split between the election and the football game between top-ranked Louisiana State and the University of Mississippi, Mr. Edwards ventured an explanation for why voters were comfortable re-electing him.

“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” he said in an interview. “People are just in a better mood.”

Republicans had succeeded during the state’s all-party jungle primary last month in forcing Mr. Edwards into a runoff against Mr. Rispone, who came in second. The race then narrowed into a virtual dead heat, as Mr. Rispone closed the gap with a flood of support from Republicans, who poured millions of dollars into the campaign and brought in prominent figures, including, most notably, the president and Vice President Mike Pence.

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John Bel Edwards is a graduate of West Point and LSU's School of Law. A former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger and a If Democrats choose to run and govern on a grounded set of issues that draw a clear line between our platform and a voter’s kitchen table, we can win even in the reddest of the red states.

In Louisiana , a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump . The hard rock transmits the energy of the earthquake longer distances, he said, even if the quake does not cause devastation.

In a rally this week, Mr. Trump acknowledged the stakes, saying, “You’ve got to give me a big win, O.K.?” For Mr. Trump, the importance of the outcome grew considerably this week when his chosen candidate in Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin, conceded his race, which also hinged on whether he could depend on the president’s clout to win.

Mr. Trump had carried Louisiana by 20 percentage points in 2016, but his investment in the governor’s race was still regarded as an unusual expenditure of his political capital in a state that is unlikely to be competitive in the presidential election next year.

Republicans had viewed Mr. Edwards as vulnerable from the outset, and political analysts said that the governor was left in an even more precarious position as Mr. Trump leapt into the fray.

Mr. Edwards faced “an opponent that has replaced what he hoped would be a referendum on his own incumbency with a narrative that is, more or less, a referendum on Donald Trump,” said Mary-Patricia Wray, a political consultant who has worked for Democrats and Republicans, including Mr. Edwards during his 2015 campaign. The governor’s success in a race that had been nationalized as a test for Mr. Trump, she added, offered “proof that authenticity still counts for half a percent in red Louisiana.”

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In Louisiana , a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump . Let’s not forget that Democrats have been hard at work in Congress. Republicans are attempting to create the false impression Democrats are solely focused on impeachment.

In Louisiana , a Narrow Win for John Bel Edwards and a Hard Loss for Trump . John Bel Edwards of Louisiana , a rare Democratic governor in the South, was re-elected for a second term, beating back a challenger heavily supported by President Trump .

Mr. Edwards and Mr. Rispone entered the runoff after the state’s nonpartisan primary in October, where Mr. Edwards came up shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to assure his re-election, receiving 46 percent of the vote. Mr. Rispone, with 27 percent, came in second place by edging past the Republican congressman Ralph Abraham.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Edwards, a rare Democrat holding statewide office in the South, shined a spotlight on his conservative bona fides, like his support for a state law barring abortion after the pulsing of what becomes the fetus’s heart can be detected. He also campaigned on his role in closing a $2 billion deficit he inherited from his Republican predecessor, Bobby Jindal, and has argued that Mr. Rispone, by pursuing aggressive tax cuts, would put Louisiana back in the same place.

And he distanced himself from national Democrats. One of his most influential megawatt backers has not been anyone from Washington, but instead Ed Orgeron, Louisiana State University’s football coach. (“I know the state of Louisiana believes in him just like a championship quarterback,” the coach said at a fund-raiser in April.)

Mr. Edwards has steadily refused to criticize Mr. Trump and indeed has seized every opportunity he could to visit the White House to burnish his image with conservatives. Yet he had no reservations about slamming Mr. Rispone for clinging to the president’s coattails.

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“If he had a message that resonated with Louisiana voters, that was about Louisiana, he wouldn’t need to try to nationalize the race,” Mr. Edwards told reporters at a campaign stop in New Orleans this week. “He’s an uninspiring candidate who doesn’t know very much about how state government works.”

Still, Mr. Rispone, who founded with his brother an industrial engineering, construction and maintenance company in Baton Rouge, considered his neophyte status as a benefit rather than a deficiency, casting himself as a Trump-like candidate for Louisiana, putting his business experience to use for the state.

Indeed, Mr. Rispone never passed on an opportunity to highlight his allegiance to the president. He opened his candidacy with an ad boasting of how he had a Trump bumper sticker on his pickup truck. He ran as much on the same national issues the president did, most notably illegal immigration, as he did anything connected to state government. And when Mr. Rispone addressed supporters at an election night gathering in October, he started his speech by saying he had just gotten off the phone with the president, leading the crowd to chant “Trump!” Mr. Rispone’s first two ads in the runoff showed footage of Mr. Trump but none of the candidate.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump traveled to Bossier City, La., near Shreveport in the northern part of the state, to renew his attack on Mr. Edwards and to urge the crowd to “send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington” by voting for Mr. Rispone. He reiterated his support for Mr. Rispone on Saturday with multiple tweets.

Mr. Trump’s support helped sway Michael Derouen, who works in seafood sales. He described both candidates as “pretty decent,” but ultimately, he sided with Mr. Rispone because he believed a change might jolt Louisiana forward and a strong relationship with the president would only offer more of a boost.

“He’s not just a politician,” Mr. Derouen said just after voting at a fire station in East Baton Rouge Parish. “He’s a businessman, which opens the door for us and the state. We want an all-around guy, not just a politician.”

While many voters acknowledged the influence Mr. Trump has had in the race, they also noted that it had the potential to motivate his detractors as much as his supporters.

“This is about the power of the vote and about people in this state standing up and standing together to do what’s right for this state,” said the Rev. A. J. Johnson, a pastor at First Pilgrim Calvary Baptist, a predominantly African-American congregation in Geismar, southeast of Baton Rouge. “It’s not about what a president thinks is right for this state.”

Jonathan Martin contributed reporting.

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