By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – The Louisiana governor’s race is beginning to take shape and from where I’m sitting, it looks like a piece of cake for the incumbent, John Bel Edwards. The Advocate has a good run-down of who is in and who is out at this point, and when you look at who is out, what you see is a collection of the only people who could actually defeat Edwards, or at least give him a run for his money.
Out is Republican Senator John Kennedy who says that he has decided to stay in the Senate; he also says that President Trump asked him to stay in the Senate. Interesting.
Also out is U.S. Representative Steve Scalise who will keep his post as House minority whip.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry intends to run for re-election for his post which means he won’t be running for governor. Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has also expressed a desire to remain in his current position, so he too is out of the gubernatorial race.
All of those folks would have given Edwards a good run.
Who is in?
Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone. Who? Not many people have heard of him. According to the Baton Rouge Business Report:
Rispone, founder of industrial contracting company ISC Constructors, is a longtime donor to GOP and conservative campaigns and causes. The businessman says he plans to invest his own money in what will be an expensive governor’s race.
Also running is U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham who, according to The Advocate, is a “military veteran, Abraham is a doctor, veterinarian and pilot who still runs occasional missions for the U.S. Coast Guard. He was overwhelmingly re-elected to Congress earlier this year, after a campaign that had him running introductory ads throughout the state. He would not have to give up his seat in Congress to run for governor.”
In short, if this is the playing field, it looks like re-election for Democrat John Bel Edwards to me. I don’t think either of the other candidates have the name recognition to pull off an upset, and in truth, many people think Edwards does a pretty good job at working across the aisle. Pollster John Couvillon agrees and says that Edwards “deserves” to be re-elected due in part to “an improving” statewide economy.
A sad truth is still that Louisiana remains at or near the bottom of every measuring stick such as in education. I love my state but I do not love the high unemployment, the staggering poverty, the high rate of violent crime and yes, there are some serious problems in education. We are not a business friendly state (ranked no. 44 out of 50 with our neighbor, Texas, in the number 1 spot.) These things must change.
And so, while their could be some dark horse jumping in this election to make it interesting, I’m not seeing much of a challenge for Edwards to keep his post for another term. I do hope that these challengers will force Edwards to commit in some way to bringing business and industry back to Louisiana and to reinstate some of the tax breaks that made things like the film industry come here.
I’d like to say that it will be an interesting race, but right now I’m thinking not so much.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and on Twitter @paustin110.