Ahead of challenges, Edwards focuses on joy of inauguration

Inauguration Mass Preview

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Draped in red and blue and embellished with greenery donated from nurseries across Louisiana, the State Capitol takes on fresh look for the inauguration of Louisiana's 56th governor.

Relaxed and smiling, Governor-elect John Bel Edwards held a light-hearted news conference with reporters Sunday during a final walk through of the big event. He talked music and food and was determined to focus on the joy of the inauguration.

"Today is not a day for me to be worried," Edwards said. "And, I'm not and I won't be worried tomorrow. The worry will set in the day after."

There will be plenty of challenges facing the new governor as he takes office. Those range from the budget crisis to healthcare. However, for a few hours at least, Edwards seems to hope the inauguration will give the state a chance to enjoy the start of something novel.

The event is filled with personal touches. Edwards will be sworn in with a family bible. He will pay tribute to his military service by having the oldest unit in the Louisiana National Guard line the steps and present the colors. Close friends and family members are involved throughout the ceremony. All these things will help reintroduce the candidate that was once an unknown long shot.

"An amazing situation for this governor because he was a largely unknown lawmaker from a small town," said political analyst Jim Engster. "He's the first governor in Louisiana ever to be elected from the state House directly and he beat some giants, including a sitting US senator who had never lost an election. He got here with a remarkable campaign. Now, Louisiana hopes he will be a remarkable governor."

After a noteworthy campaign, Engster said the lone Democrat in statewide office will have to work hard to carry on the goodwill felt on inauguration day.

"In the early going, people are willing to give the new governor the benefit of the doubt. But we all know, long term, people start asking questions and there are a lot of hard questions that need to be answered," Engster added.

As for extending the honeymoon period with voters, Edwards said it will depend on lawmakers and leaders working together.

"This is about finding common interest. If you don't do that, you don't talk and don't work together," Edwards explained.

There will be a mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral at 8 a.m. Inaugural ceremonies start at 11:30 a.m. and the oath will be administered around noon.

WAFB's live coverage will begin at 11 a.m.

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