Democrat John Bel Edwards has defeated Republican Sen. David Vitter in the Louisiana governor’s race–a win that goes against the national trend towards Republican victories at the state level.
While Vitter’s loss is a setback for Republicans, and provides a boost to Democrats ahead of the 2016 elections, there is a silver lining as well: Edwards ran, and won, on a conservative message.
The Wall Street Journal notes:
During the campaign, Mr. Edwards emphasized his record as a pro-gun-rights, antiabortion legislator who graduated from West Point and came from a long line of small-town sheriffs.
Mr. Edwards said in debates, speeches and ads that he would be faithful to his state and to his wife. Mr. Edwards said Mr. Vitter had failed on both levels, when his phone number was found among the records of a Washington, D.C., madam in 2007.
Democrats will tout Edwards’s support for President Barack Obama’s policy on refugees as a reason the party should not be afraid of the issue. In fact, as Breitbart News reported, Edwards likely lost some support because of his stance–though too late to make much of a difference to the outcome. Opinion polls show Obama and his party sharply at odds with the electorate on the issue.
The biggest factor in the outcome was probably Vitter’s troubled past–not enough to dislodge him, as an incumbent, from the Senate, but a tough hurdle to overcome in a state that has only recently started to clean up political corruption (thanks in large part to outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal). Still, there are lessons here for both the Democrats and for the Republicans going into 2016.
For Democrats, Edwards’s win is a reminder that the party needs to reach out to conservative and independent voters. Hillary Clinton’s lurch to the left, following Bernie Sanders, is going to be tough to undo by next November.
For Republicans, Vitter’s loss is a reminder of how deeply skeptical voters have become of Washington politicians–something to consider as the primaries loom.