Thus, Edwards was elected handily and has spent his entire three years in office blaming all of his problems on the former Governor of Louisiana, the unlikable Bobby Jindal. Edwards can claim that he raised taxes due to the financial mismanagement of the globe-trotting Jindal, who spent more times in airplanes than in the Governor’s mansion. Of course, Jindal was trying to position himself for a presidential campaign and eventually launched a pathetic effort that was universally ridiculed.
Jindal was so self-centered and ambitious and so neglectful of Louisiana voters that he has been the perfect villain for Edwards to blame whenever he encounters problems, which have been numerous. In reality, Edwards has created more problems for the state with his misguided policies. Whether it is expanding Medicaid and refusing to fight fraud, raising taxes, or releasing thousands of prisoners, many of whom have returned to criminal behavior, Edwards has been pursuing unpopular and unsuccessful policies. As a result, Louisiana has been one of the few states in the nation to actually suffer a loss of population.
There should be plenty of ripe political targets for potential opponents to seize upon in the Governor’s upcoming re-election campaign. However, Edwards, has been lucky once again. His most formidable opponents have all decided not to challenge him. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry and Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser will run for re-election, while House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will stay in Congress. This week we learned that U.S. Senator John Kennedy will not challenge Edwards despite a long running criticism of his performance as Governor.
Now, political observers in Louisiana are giving Edwards a good chance of re-election, even though his views are not in sync with the majority of Louisiana voters. Edwards is a lifelong Democrat, who is loyal to a party that has been losing power in Louisiana for generations. Despite his disadvantages, Edwards is the favorite in the upcoming election for a variety of reasons. As an incumbent, he has built a political war chest of over $5 million. He already has the support of the majority of the statewide media, who are mostly liberals. He has daily access to the media and can make news very easily in ways that will boost his popularity. With his political power, he can influence state spending, control state legislators and support projects that will also enhance his political standing.
The Louisiana Republican Party needs to focus resources and attention on this campaign. They need to point out the real record of Edwards and inform voters of his true views on the issues.
Most importantly, some prominent Republicans need to enter the race and at least give Edwards a strong challenge. This should be a Governor’s race that the GOP targets to pick-up in 2019, but, as of now, the chances of such a victory seem slim.