Below is the press statement from the Edwards campaign:
Today Gov. John Bel Edwards challenged his 2019 opponents to three hour-long televised debates for the fall election between September 2nd and Election Day, October 12th. Gov. Edwards has already accepted an invitation to participate in Nexstar’s debate on September 19 in Baton Rouge and is currently working with possible debate partners to establish times and locations for other debates. These debates would be televised statewide, would be one hour long, and would take place in different regions of the state.
To keep debates informative and helpful to voters, only candidates who have received 5,000 or more donations or have received the support of at least 10% of Louisianans in three separate public opinion polls conducted by independent third-parties would be eligible to participate.
Mike Foster in 1999 and Bobby Jindal in 2011 are the last two governors to run for re-election, and both refused to debate their opponents. Gov. Edwards’ opponents were two of Bobby Jindal’s biggest supporters, and both supported his 2011 campaign.
“My opponents have said they want Louisiana to turn 180 degrees. Well that’s going backwards to the days of Bobby Jindal, and I won’t let that happen. I am excited about this campaign and my opportunity to present voters with a clear choice: do we keep moving forward and investing in our future or do we go backward? I am confident the people of Louisiana want to keep moving forward and am eager to contrast my vision for Louisiana with my opponents. I hope they will answer my call for three televised debates to inform voters before the October 12 election,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
Congressman Ralph Abraham responded shortly after Trump’s announcement by stating:
@JohnBelforLA has challenged me to three debates. Why just three? We ought to do a TV debate in every congressional district, so every Louisianian can hear how he's failed our state. See you there. Don't lie this time.
The other major Republican opponent, Eddie Rispone has not yet commented upon it on social media. The Baton Rouge Businessman did announce that he was matching the very prolific fundraiser Edwards dollar for dollar however. In a twitter post, Rispone stated last week that he has $10.4 million on hand with Edwards trailing with 10.4 million. The post also claims that Abraham only has one million on hand. He reportedly has lent his campaign $10 million.
During the 2015 election in which Edwards ultimately bested then-US Senator David Vitter, the primary candidates including Edwards made Vitter's lack of appearances at debates and forums a major campaign issue. While Abraham has stated the three debates are not enough, time will tell if electionpublic appearances resonate with the voters as it did four years ago.