John Bel Edwards Responds to Criticism from Trump on Twitter

July 8, 2019- Governor Edwards speaks with supporters at the opening of his New Orleans campaign office, at 1516 Thalia Street. Photo Courtesy John Bel For Louisiana

President Donald Trump is usually quick to campaign for Republicans who profess their support for him. He’s been vocal in many Congressional races where the outcome could swing either way. Considering his eagerness to campaign for loyal candidates, many found it a bit odd for the President to wait until the final weeks before Louisiana votes for a new Governor to express support for a candidate. And what’s more telling, Trump didn’t actually endorse a single candidate nor offer any good reasons as to why Louisiana voters should cast their vote for either of the Republican candidates. 

Just last week, Donald Trump took to Twitter to endorse the Governor John Bel Edwards’ two Republican opponents, Eddie Rispone and Ralph Abraham. In his tweet he encouraged voters to vote for either one of his opponents to force a runoff, suggesting that if Louisiana voters could force a runoff, Republicans can win. 

Some speculate that perhaps Trump and the Louisiana GOP are struggling to find a good reason to vote against John Bel Edwards. Edwards has enjoyed the endorsement of the coveted Louisiana Sheriffs Association and the International Union of Police Associations, which represents more than 2,000 state police officers. Additionally, the incumbent has touted his endorsement of both Republican and Democratic legislators in the state, and on other issues, Governor Edwards has worked with both Republicans and Democrats to reverse the budget crisis caused by the previous Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. Bobby Jindal left office with a $2 billion dollar deficit, the largest in the state’s history.

In August 2019, the Baton Rouge Business Report, estimated a $300 million dollar surplus for this fiscal year. More recent estimates suggest the surplus could be as large as $500 million dollars. On day one of his first term, Governor Edwards expanded Medicaid, which, according to a recent report, has now reached 500,000 Louisianians and is still increasing. The Governor has also been a staunch advocate for those with disabilities, and he has made much-needed investments in infrastructure, health care and education. 

Today, in a desperate attempt to rally voters around a Republican candidate, Donald Trump tweeted an  inaccurate statement, asserting that John Bel Edwards’ support for the Second Amendment was suspect. Needless to say, the President’s assertion regarding John Bel Edwards’ Second Amendment stance was 100 percent false, and considering Trump’s calls for enhanced background checks and bans on certain assault weapons, the attack seems a bit ironic. For instance, in December 2018, the Trump administration imposed a ban on bump-stocks, which John Bel Edwards and many other Republicans also supported at the time coming off the heels of a string of mass shootings. In most areas though, John Bel’s records on guns have been consistent with Louisiana voters’ stances. In August 2018, for example, to the dismay of liberal voters across the state, John Bel signed Senate Bill 402 into law, which expanded access to armed security in churches. Governor Edwards has also pointed to his A rating from the NRA, and at times he posts pictures of his hunting experiences. 

In response to the President, Governor Edwards tweeted “All due respect, Mr. President, but the people of LA know my record of protecting the 2nd Amendment. I’ve had it my entire life. And in LA, Republicans & Democrats worked together to fix the disaster Bobby Jindal left us. Look forward to working w/ you in my 2nd term.”

Despite the last minute efforts to undermine Governor John Bel Edwards’ re-election efforts, the Governor appears to still enjoy strong unwavering support from Democrats, Independents and Republicans. A recent poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy showed John Bel with 45 percent support. Rispone and Abraham trailed with 22 and 17 percent, respectively. Although polling did not show the Governor with a 50 plus percent advantage that he needs to win the election outright and avoid a runoff, it’s important to note the undecideds, which, if distributed relatively evenly, would propel Governor Edwards to over 50 percent, which is what he needs to avoid a runoff. Other polls have shown similar results.

Also, despite Trump’s strong approval rating in Louisiana, the President appears to be struggling in garnering attendees to his rally tonight in Lake Charles. Rob Anderson, a vocal Democrat and congressional candidate in Louisiana’s third congressional district, highlighted the availability of “free” tickets to tonight’s rally.

Election Day is October 12, 2019, and if for some reason, the Governor doesn’t reach the threshold he needs to win the primary, the runoff election will be held on November 16, 2019.



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