- Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is the winner in a competitive election against outsider Eddie Rispone, who conceded Saturday night.
- The polls were razor-thin, as the popular Edwards attempted to win in a state won by President Trump by 20 percentage points in 2016.
- Last week a key Trump ally in Kentucky lost to a Democrat, so this race will have national implications beyond who controls Louisiana.
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Democrat John Bel Edwards has won the race for Louisiana’s governorship.
A Mason-Dixon poll of the race from early November had Edwards at 48%, Rispone at 46%.
The election is a critical one for a number of reasons. As the 2020 election approaches ever nearer, the president’s ability to carry preferred candidates past the finish line in states that went for him by large margins is a major concern. Republicans control both the state house and state senate, so a GOP take here would grant them the trifecta control of government, while a Democratic hold would continue the mixed government Louisiana has often maintained.
Trump won Louisiana by 20 percentage points in 2016, but that’s not a guarantee anymore. Last week, Trump-ally Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky narrowly lost his re-election bid despite the President, who won Kentucky by 30 percentage points, hosting a rally in his support. On Thursday, the president backed Rispone, whose ascendance imitates the president’s own rise to office, at a rally.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. local time. Results were being updated on this map as votes were processed and announced, John Bel Edwards was confirmed the winner.
Louisiana has had a long history of Democratic leadership despite the increasingly conservative electorate of the state, and Edwards ran with the support of a number of Republican leaders, as well as the selling point that he’s successfully reined in spending while expanding Medicaid.
Rispone, the founder of a construction business, ran for the governorship as an outsider, directly adapting the kind of talking points that successfully propelled Donald Trump to the presidency.
The election is on a Saturday because it is technically a runoff: In Louisiana, all candidates for the office of governor run in a single primary. If one individual gets a majority of the vote, they have won the election; if no one claims a majority, a runoff of the top two contenders goes on.
In mid-October, Edwards took 47% of the vote in the primary, Rispone took 27%, and Republican Ralph Abraham took 24%, setting the stage for the events of today.