Louisiana’s governor’s race a week from Saturday offers the GOP nationally a chance to atone for the loss in Kentucky by taking a governor’s mansion back from Democrats in the South after losing another one this week.
Businessman Eddie Rispone, the GOP candidate for governor, is experiencing a surge of support from Republicans statewide unifying behind his candidacy as he rises in the polls in what is shaping up to be a tight photo finish on the bayou. After getting into the runoff back in the October 12 jungle primary, Rispone has quickly unified Republicans in Louisiana behind his campaign, bringing in most of the senior team behind his chief GOP rival Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) during that round.
Abraham quickly endorsed Rispone that night as he conceded the race, and now, his team is working to ensure Rispone is victorious in the Louisiana gubernatorial runoff on Saturday, November 16.
Incumbent Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards, meanwhile, has turned to national Democrats like former President Barack Obama and failed 2016 Democrat presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton’s team for help. Edwards’ team is also internally fighting, sources with knowledge of the matter say, over control of the message and reins of the campaign as these new national Democrats with Clinton ties fly into Louisiana to work for his team in the home stretch after he underperformed expectations back on October 12.
As Breitbart News reported, Edwards has brought in veteran Hillary Clinton Democrat staffer Scott Arceneaux in the runoff to help with his campaign in the final home stretch. What’s more, former President Obama recorded a robocall for Edwards on election day back on October 12 urging Louisiana voters to “get out and vote for Gov. John Bel Edwards.”
Lionel Rainey, a top adviser previously to Abraham who is now working for the Republican Governors Association (RGA) to elect Rispone as the GOP unifies in the state, told Breitbart News that the contrast between both sides could not be clearer.
“Conservatives are uniting and Democrats are infighting over who’s getting paid,” Rainey said. “John Bel’s team is fractured and in full-blown panic mode. They’re desperate. It’s almost sad to watch it happening. You could see it in the governor’s performance during the debate. “Confident” would not be an adjective I would use to describe it. They know it’s coming to an end, and they can’t handle it. And President Trump hasn’t even come back in yet for the runoff. They might have a seizure when he takes the stage before Election Day. There’s a red wave coming in Louisiana. We’re going to take back the governor’s seat and have a supermajority of conservatives in the Statehouse and Senate. The days of Louisiana finishing last are coming to an end. It’s exciting.”
President Donald Trump is headed to Louisiana on Wednesday night to campaign again for Rispone. He appeared before the October 12 jungle primary alongside both Rispone and Abraham back then, urging Louisiana voters to back either one in the October 12 race to keep Edwards under 50 percent and force this runoff. Rispone made it to the runoff, lining up the battle that is coming up next week. Trump has been very active in the race, weighing in repeatedly to help Rispone too:
Louisiana, get out and Vote Early for @EddieRispone as your next Governor. Lower Taxes and car insurance. Will protect your 2nd Amendment. John Bel Edwards is always fighting our MAGA Agenda. Wants to raise your taxes and car insurance to the sky. Vote for Republican Eddie R!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 4, 2019
Louisiana has a chance to have a really great Governor in @EddieRispone. Auto insurance costs and taxes will be coming way down with Eddie, and your 2nd Amendment will be protected. Current Democrat governor has done a really poor job! VOTE EARLY FOR EDDIE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2019
LOUISIANA! Extreme Democrat John Bel Edwards has sided with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to support Sanctuary Cities, High Taxes, and Open Borders. He is crushing Louisiana’s economy and your Second Amendment rights….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2019
….Our Republican candidate @EddieRispone is a successful conservative businessman who will stand with me to create jobs and protect your Second Amendment. GET OUT AND VOTE for Eddie, the next Governor of the GREAT State of Louisiana!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2019
One of the key strategies of Edwards’ team in the home stretch has been to try to divide Abraham and Rispone supporters in the runoff, to keep Rispone from coalescing enough support to get over the top. On October 12, Edwards finished with an abysmal 46.6 percent, Rispone got 27.4 percent, and Abraham got 23.6 percent—for a combined GOP total of 51 percent.
But Edwards’ strategy is not working particularly well, GOP sources in the state say, because of how quickly and swiftly Abraham and his team have rallied behind Rispone. Part of the reason why Trump is heading to Monroe, Louisiana, in the northern part of the state—Abraham’s congressional district and his turf—on Wednesday night is that Abraham personally called the president and asked him to come there specifically to help Rispone.
Abraham confirmed this in a tweet last week when the rally was announced:
I’m excited to announce @realDonaldTrump is coming to Monroe for a rally on Wednesday, November 6th at 7:00pm. You can get tickets at the link below. Let’s show the President how much the people of northeast Louisiana support him! https://t.co/qYZZ9MFJ5q
— Dr. Ralph Abraham (@DocAbraham) October 31, 2019
With Tuesday’s likely loss in Kentucky’s governor’s race—the Associated Press still has not called the race, but Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin trailed by several thousand votes to Democrat Attorney General Andy Beshear in a race Bevin has as of now not conceded—the stakes in Louisiana get higher heading into next week. The Louisiana race offers Republicans an opportunity for redemption and the ability to legitimately claim that Kentucky was a one-off and not a trend nationally against Republicans.