Democratic Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has been declared the winner in his re-election effort, upsetting Republicans who hoped they would be able to win back the state.
Democrats are celebrating the results of their Saturday victory, but the election itself was narrowly decided. Edwards defeated Republican businessman Eddie Rispone with only 51 percent of the vote, the Associated Press reports, despite President Trump playing an active role in the campaign.
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 17, 2019
President Trump visited Louisiana three times to campaign against Edwards and sent multiple tweets to bolster the election turnout.
Edwards addressed Trump’s involvement during his victory rally, where he commented: “How sweet it is! “And as for the president, God bless his heart.” The phrase is often used sarcastically in the South, rather than sympathetically, especially given this context.
“Tonight the people of Louisiana have chosen to chart their own path,” Edwards said.
Edwards in his victory speech: "Our shared love for Louisiana is always more important than the partisan differences that sometimes divide us. And as for the president: God bless his heart."
— Steven Shepard (@POLITICO_Steve) November 17, 2019
The Republican loss comes as the latest in a string of losses across the country.
“Coming after a defeat in the Kentucky governor’s race and sizable losses in Virginia’s legislative races, the Louisiana result seems certain to rattle Republicans as they head into the 2020 presidential election,” the Associated Press reports.
Trump had made the runoff election between Edwards and Rispone a test of his own popularity and political prowess heading into the 2020 presidential race. On Saturday, Trump went on Twitter in a vigorous plug for Rispone.
The president’s intense attention motivated not only conservative Republicans, but also powered a surge in anti-Trump and black voter turnout that helped Edwards.
As he conceded the race, Rispone called on supporters to give a round of applause for Trump, saying: “That man loves America and he loves Louisiana.”
Rispone’s loss raises questions about the strength of Trump’s coattails, its relevance to his reelection chances are less clear. Louisiana is expected to easily back Trump next year, and Edwards’ views in many ways are out of step with his own party.
Reuters reports Edwards is a “conservative Democrat” and may have won the election due to his pro-gun stance and pro-life support.
Shortly after the election was called, National Review staff writer Alexandra DeSanctis tweeted: “Of all the heartbeat bills passed earlier this year, only one was signed by a Democratic governor: Louisiana’s. Pro-life Democrats like Edwards have all but been run out of the party, but in some states, looks like that’s what voters want.”
Of all the heartbeat bills passed earlier this year, only one was signed by a Democratic governor: Louisiana’s. Pro-life Democrats like Edwards have all but been run out of the party, but in some states, looks like that’s what voters want. https://t.co/4CIGFuVAfu
— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) November 17, 2019