Edwards wins governor’s race, Ardoin secretary of state
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana voters settled the nation’s last 2019 gubernatorial contest Saturday, giving the Deep South’s only Democratic governor a second term, rather than replacing him with a Republican businessman favored by President Donald Trump.
Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards overcame a strong challenge from Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who had hoped Trump’s coattails would help him secure a victory in the crimson state where the president remains popular.
Also on the ballot was a rematch for Louisiana secretary of state, plus 29 legislative races and the competition to fill a vacant state Supreme Court seat.
Edwards fell short of winning in the primary against five opponents, forcing him into a runoff against Rispone, who bested the other major Republican in the field after spending millions of his own money on the race.
The Democratic incumbent received the cross-party support he needed to win reelection, despite national Republican leaders working to prove Edwards’ 2015 win was a lucky break against a flawed GOP candidate with a prostitution scandal.
Edwards focused on state-specific issues. He ran on the stabilization of state finances during his term, the first statewide teacher pay raise in a decade and the government-financed health insurance given to 460,000 people in his Medicaid expansion program.
Rispone said Edwards chased businesses and people away from Louisiana with the tax hikes he and the GOP-led Legislature used to balance the budget.
A longtime Republican political donor making his first bid for public office, Rispone described himself as a “conservative outsider” and businessman in the mold of Trump. He sought to nationalize the race, linking Edwards to national Democratic Party leaders who are unpopular in Louisiana and offering few specifics about his state policy platforms.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Louisiana’s other statewide runoff competition was for its chief elections official, the secretary of state.
Republican incumbent Kyle Ardoin kept his job against Democratic challenger Gwen Collins-Greenup in a rematch of the special election Ardoin won last year.
Ardoin was a top deputy to former Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican who resigned last year amid sexual harassment allegations. Ardoin took over the position, then won the election to serve the final year of Schedler’s term.
Collins-Greenup has worked in notary and real estate businesses and is a former city court administrator and clerk of court employee. She did little fundraising for the race.
STATE LEGISLATIVE SEATS
Twenty-four state House seats and five Senate seats were filled in the runoff. Republicans were unable to reach the veto-proof, two-thirds supermajority in the House they had sought for the new term starting in January. The GOP has reached that benchmark in the Senate.
Sixteen of the House competitions were between candidates of the same party. Of the remaining eight seats, Republicans were competing in seven — and needed to win each one to reach the 70-member supermajority out of 105 seats. They lost at least two of those contests.
All but one of the five Senate races on the runoff ballot were between members of the same party.
Securing two-thirds of the members in a chamber means if the GOP votes as a bloc, its members could override a gubernatorial veto and could make some budget and tax decisions without Democratic support.
LOUISIANA SUPREME COURT
New Orleans-area voters chose a new Louisiana Supreme Court justice to fill a seat left vacant when former Justice Greg Guidry was confirmed to a lifetime federal judgeship.
Will Crain, a state appeals court judge from Madisonville, defeated Hans Liljeberg, a state appeals court judge from Metairie. Both men are Republicans.
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