Republican Dardenne endorses Democrat Edwards for governor

RAW: Jay Dardenne endorses John Bel Edwards for governor

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, former Republican candidate for the governor's office, endorsed Democrat John Bel Edwards during an event Thursday morning.

Edwards is in the runoff with US Sen. David Vitter, a Republican. Edwards accepted Dardenne's endorsement.

Dardenne set a bit of history by crossing party lines to endorse the Democratic candidate in the race for the Louisiana's top job. He said he'll always be a Republican, but that he couldn't honestly vote for Vitter. Dardenne praised Edwards's honesty. The announcement was made at LSU in Free Speech Alley.

"The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership by Bobby Jindal during this last term," Dardenne said. "A David Vitter governorship will further damage that brand as I and others have pointed out during the campaign. I cannot and will not sit idly by and refuse to speak truth to power."

Dardenne said Vitter asked for his endorsement. He added he met with the senator and he turned him down.

"We're very excited about our campaign and the tens of thousands of conservative Louisiana voters who have jumped on board in the past week, including so many that voted for Jay," Vitter said. "We wish Jay and his family the best."

The Republican Party of Louisiana offered a harsh response to Dardenne's endorsement of Edwards.

The announcement is the latest in a string of bad news for Vitter. Polls released earlier this week showed him losing by wide margins against Edwards.

Dardenne garnered 160,000 votes during the first round of elections. Political analyst Jim Engster said while many of his supporters may still stick with the Republican ticket and vote for Vitter, voters have a mind of their own.

Early voting for the November 21 election starts Saturday.

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