Report from Louisiana: An Edwards/Rispone Runoff

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – It was a wild night in Louisiana Saturday night.  LSU defeated Florida in Death Valley and John Bel Edwards and Eddie Rispone will face off in five weeks for the runoff election for Louisiana governor.

Edwards finished the night with 46% of the vote while the Republican vote was split between Rispone and Ralph Abraham. Rispone captured 27% and Abraham 23%.  Other contenders in the gubernatorial race were mere blips.

Friday, President Trump visited Lake Charles, LA to lend support for the Republican candidates. He did not endorse either Rispone or Abraham until after the returns came in last night; now he has endorsed Rispone.   Trump, of course, takes credit for getting Rispone into the runoff, and he may well have contributed. Lines to get inside to see Trump in Lake Charles were staggeringly long and people began camping out far in advance of the event.

Most pundits across the state do not see an Edwards re-election as a done deal:

In either scenario, Edwards will have a much tougher time scooping up support from Republican voters than he did in his first election. Edwards’ Conservative-leaning stances that attracted Republicans during his first election could seem more moderate when compared to Rispone’s. Edwards also can’t count on the same wave of support from Republican voters who had become fatigued with their party as they had with Edwards’ predecessor, former Governor Bobby Jindal.

He’s also almost certain to face critiques from Republican officials who held onto seats in Statewide offices after the primary, including one of his harshest critics Jeff Landry. And, he can expect to fight off attacks from the major Republican competitor who failed to beat Rispone to secure the runoff, Ralph Abraham.

Rispone often compares himself to Trump as a self-made businessman:

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Rispone grew up with six people in a one-bathroom house near the plants in blue-collar north Baton Rouge. He and a brother, Jerry, built ISC Constructors to a firm with revenue of $364 million last year.

Though much more soft-spoken and polite than Trump, Rispone upended the Louisiana Republican establishment by running as an outsider willing to blow up the traditional politics and historical governing structure to get things done.

Late Saturday night, Ralph Abraham conceded and endorsed Rispone.

The run off election is November 16.

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 Planation (LSU Press). Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Key Phrase: “Friendly Room”

We’re already talked a bit about how Beto O’Rourke’s admission in front of TV camera concerning taxing churches has confirmed what we’ve all known for years concerning the left. Now comes the left with the “Beto as Strawman” argument claiming that he’s a nobody, a non-entity who doesn’t really matter:

Given his low and static polling, it’s hard to tell what, exactly, Beto O’Rourke hopes to accomplish by staying in the presidential race. But while his actual goal seems a bit elusive, he is increasingly playing a very specific role: the human straw man, the embodiment of every seemingly irrational conservative fear about what the left really wants.

That’s Jordan Weissman arguing in Slate that O’Rourke’s positions aren’t actually positions of the left and all he is doing his stoking conservative fears. This is only part of his attack on Robert Francis O’Rourke

This is not the first time O’Rourke—a politician, it should be noted, without a constituency: no district, almost no support in the polls—has promised to make conservatives’ worst nightmares come true. After adopting gun control as a marquee issue following the mass shooting in El Paso earlier this year, O’Rourke promised a mandatory gun buyback program for assault weapons, memorably telling a moderator, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Not long after, Trump and Republicans blamed his comments for making it harder to get a gun control deal done in Congress. (Yes, that’s a bit rich coming from the GOP, but I’ll come back to that).

These are not the only far-left positions Beto has staked out recently. He’s strongly 
pro reparations, for instance. But his comments about churches and guns are especially remarkable, in that he’s essentially adopting unpopular stances that Democratic politicians have spent years claiming are unfair caricatures of their actual beliefs. He is turning himself into a walking straw man, the non-fringe guy Republicans can reliably point to when they want to say: “See, the libs really do want to take your guns and shut down your churches.”

emphasis mine

There are two problems with this man’s point. The 1st is highlighted by the emphasized text. It’s rather comical to see this argument given that it was the same lefty media created him out of the whole cloth, extolling Mr. O’Rourke, promoting him as “Beto” as a counter to Ted Cruz authentic ethnicity and put him up and the sign that Texas is finally turning their way. They drew millions of dollars from liberal activists all over the country in his failed effort for senate seat and then floated him as a potential presidential candidate before they knew that the Democrat field would become large enough to field a shirts vs skins Basketball game with benches for both teams.

But it’s the second point that really give the lie to the entire piece and it comes from four simple words in the 1st sentence of the piece following the embedded video (again emphasis mine):

O’Rourke’s comments drew a warm round of applause in the friendly room, and riled conservatives, who have spent years worrying that Democrats might try to do such a thing.

That’s the key line, the room was full of Democrat activists, the people who give the money, who put the pressure on candidates and decide who can choose to make hell for any candidate who doesn’t toe the line.

  • Did those activists boo or cat call that line making it clear that this is not what Democrat believe?
  • Did they rush to defend the black church which had for so many years been the place, despite existing tax laws where Democrats openly campaigned organized and raised money?
  • Did they defend conservative Muslims who have increasingly become an important part of the Democrat coalition?
  • And most important of all did any Democrat candidate rush to clearly state that this is completely contrary to what the Democrat party in general or they in particular believe?

The answer to all of these questions is not just no but HELL NO and the reason for this is the same as why when Joe Biden they didn’t do any of these things when Joe Biden went all in on gay marriage in 2012 because he knew that this is what the people who matter in the party believe..

Beto is playing a similar gambit. He understands that the people who matter in the party along with the college students taught by their minions in school are already at this place. He furthermore is in a can’t lose proposition for him. At worst by forcing the issue he raises his profile and lasts longer int he primaries ensuring him face time for a while. At best he’s getting some chits in for next time around and assuring himself of good speaking fees for the next four years.

There are many descriptions that can be made of these moves that are apt, but “Strawman” is not one of them, in fact “Strawman” is best used to describe those on the left who are trying to pretend that Beto’s opinions are an outlier rather than someone saying aloud what everyone knows.

Update: added link and image plus this Atlantic link via Instapundit which touches on a cost that the left, in my opinion, simply doesn’t care about.