The problem for Louisiana Republicans is that their most seasoned candidate, U.S. Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-Alto), announced a measly $350,000 in his campaign fund at the end of 2018. This is less than 5% of the massive war chest that Edwards will be able to use for re-election.
In Louisiana politics, incumbents have a major advantage, especially Governors running for re-election. The last Governor to lose a race for re-election was Buddy Roemer in 1991. Thus, Edwards is already the strong favorite entering the race and his fundraising success makes him an ever more prohibitive favorite.
It is so bad for Louisiana Republicans that some analysts are predicting another candidate will enter the race. In an interview with Jim Engster on WKRF-FM, GOP consultant Scott Wilfong lamented that “the money discrepancy is huge.” He also admitted that some party leaders are involved in “a movement to get another candidate in the race. If that will be successful or not, I don’t know.”
If Republicans are not able to mount a successful campaign against Edwards, possibly independent candidate, New Orleans businessman Gary Landrieu, will have an opening. Landrieu is the cousin of former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former United States Senator Mary Landrieu. Unlike his famous relatives, Gary Landrieu is a conservative who has run for Congress in the 2nd congressional district and posted impressive results against incumbent U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans). Landrieu had a difficult time winning in a very liberal congressional district based in New Orleans, but he might have a better chance finding a receptive audience in a statewide election.
While Republicans might face a challenge with Landrieu, they will definitely have a hard time defeating Edwards. Either Republicans need a new candidate to enter the race or the two current candidates need a massive increase in campaign funding.
The funds will be essential to set the record straight about Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and remind voters of his real record. In 2015, Edwards ran as a conservative Democrat, pro-life, pro-gun and pro-military. He neglected to tell voters he believed in big government and higher taxes. As Governor, his priorities have included expanding the state Medicaid rolls by 500,000 and releasing criminals early from state prisons. In fact, several of these released prisoners were later charged with murder.
There are plenty of issues to highlight for candidates in a race against John Bel Edwards; however, it remains to be seen whether Louisiana voters will have an opportunity to examine the Governor’s real record. Voters will have to sift through his campaign rhetoric to determine the truth. It will be incumbent on the candidates running against Edwards in this race to give voters the information they need to make the right decision.
Louisiana is a red state and should have a conservative Governor. However, without the right candidate and the right amount of funding, John Bel Edwards will win again and the nightmare for conservatives will continue.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America's Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]