Report from Louisiana: The State of the Governor’s Race

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Report from Louisiana: The State of the Governor's Race

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.

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.