BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham has jumped into the Louisiana governor's race, becoming the second Republican to announce he'll challenge Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards in the 2019 election.
The congressman's decision Thursday comes a month after he won re-election to a third term in the U.S. House and days after U.S. Sen. John Kennedy declared that he wouldn't run.
Abraham hopes his quick decision upon Kennedy's exit will keep other possible Republican contenders away from the race and rally GOP support for him. He issued a brief statement announcing his candidacy and saying he'll have an official campaign launch early next year.
Abraham is a doctor from rural northeast Louisiana. He joins wealthy Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone as the Republican contenders vying to keep Edwards from a second term.
Edwards issued a response shortly after Abraham’s announcement.
“On Monday, Representative Abraham said he couldn’t launch a campaign for governor because it would distract him from important work on the farm bill, soy bean crisis, looming government shutdown, flood insurance expiration and other issues the people of Louisiana have entrusted him to handle on their behalf. None of those issues have been resolved. Now, just a few days later, he’s abandoning those responsibilities along with the congressional office he was re-elected to exactly one month ago.” Edwards said in a release. "For the sake of the people of Louisiana, it is my hope that he seriously considers whether or not he is capable of running for governor while fulfilling his duties in Washington, DC."