Culture War Comes to Louisiana Governor Race

FILE - In this March 18, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham speaks at a business event hosted by the Republican Governors Association in Baton Rouge, La. A Republican group has responded to the start of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ TV campaign for re-election with advertising attacking the …
AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana — Culture war issues have emerged at the forefront of the governor’s race in Louisiana in 2019, as a candidate forum in the state capitol Thursday evening drew out some of the deeper issues separating Republicans from Democrats even more than fiscal differences.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), the leading GOP candidate for governor, pledged to eliminate sanctuary cities in Louisiana, promised to uphold the state’s residents’ Second Amendment rights–noting he has been endorsed by the NRA–and to lock up criminals for their complete sentences rather than letting convicted felons out of prison early.

Abraham said in his opening remarks at the forum hosted by a collection of Baton Rouge GOP women’s organizations:

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Ralph Abraham. I grew up on a farm in northwest Louisiana where Dianne and I still live today. I have been blessed to serve Louisiana as a soldier, as a farmer, as a pilot that still flies for the Coast Guard on auxiliary and civil air patrol, as a veterinarian, and as a medical doctor now that treats the poor in the Louisiana delta, some of the poorest in the nation. As you know, for the past five years I have been a conservative, Christian voice in the Congress of our great United States of America. I am the only candidate that has been endorsed by the NRA. I am the only candidate that has always opposed Common Core. And I am the only candidate that supports the death penalty. And I am the only candidate that has worked alongside our great president to cut your taxes, rebuild our military, and help farmers out.

Later in his opening statement, Abraham pledged to ensure violent criminals remain behind bars for their entire sentences if he is elected governor.

“If someone commits a violent crime, they will serve every day of their sentence under my administration,” Abraham said. “They’re not going to get out early, I can assure you that.”

Later, asked about education, Abraham pledged to get the government out of the way of teachers and parents. “Why don’t we start with letting teachers teach and parents parent?” Abraham said to applause from the approximately 100 people present in the auditorium of the state’s archives building.

He went on:

We do have a failing school system. Now, we have public schools that are stars. Some people love their public schools and that’s great. But there are many that are not so great, and they’re failing. To your point, we are 49th out of 50. It’s just crazy. What about letting again, that money, because we pay about the average per the nation—but we’re not getting the return that we need. The reason we’re not is because we’re teaching things like Common Core because the parents and the teachers can’t figure it out.

When sanctuary cities—particularly the question of nearby New Orleans, which is one—came up, Abraham promised to end them on day one of his governorship.

“Sanctuary cities, which by the way New Orleans is one—they’ll say they’re not, but they are—that stops day one, hour one on my watch,” Abraham said as the audience cheered. “Sanctuary cities are not going to be tolerated. In the United States Congress, I have voted every time with the president to try to help him and our wonderful ICE agents, our wonderful Border Patrol agents to do their jobs. I’ve been to the border. I know what’s down there. I know what drugs come across. I know those poor children that are coming across and are being exploited and abused and I’ve seen horrific things that we cannot even say in this forum. We will eliminate any concept, any hint, any whisper of ever having any sanctuary cities in Louisiana under my watch. We will let our good men and women in uniform, our good Border Patrol agents and our good ICE agents—heroes that protect us, that let us sleep safely and soundly at night—do their job and get these illegals out of this country.”

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