(WAFB) - Eddie Rispone is hoping Louisiana will elect a “different kind of governor” during a runoff election Saturday, Nov. 16.
Rispone, the new face of a Republican offensive hoping to unseat incumbent Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, gained enough support among Louisiana voters to prevent Edwards from an outright victory in a Primary Election held Saturday, Oct. 12.
Rispone earned 27% of the vote, according to complete but unofficial results from Louisiana’s Secretary of State’s Office. That’s well behind the 47% of the vote Edwards secured, but enough to give him another shot.
This round, he’ll have the full support of prominent national Republicans seeking to replace Edwards with a Conservative. Rispone makes a particularly good candidate because of his devotion to President Trump.
“President Donald Trump is going to help us. He congratulated us. He’s going to stay with Louisiana. He’s going to make us great like the rest of the country. And he’s going to support us,” Rispone said as an opener for his “victory” speech.
That devotion came with promises made during the campaign that Rispone would continue to support the Trump Administration’s efforts to create stronger penalties against illegal immigration, end sanctuary cities, and “stop the influx of drugs, gangs, and violence into [the United States].”
It also came with Rispone’s Trump-esque persona as a “political outsider” that played to the same strengths that won over Louisiana voters for Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election.
It’s unclear if Rispone was always Trump’s pick, or the “choice candidate” among Republican leaders, or if he’s benefitting from Conservative leadership’s desire to reestablish a lockout of Democratic governors in Deep South states.
In either scenario, Edwards will have a much tougher time scooping up support from Republican voters than he did in his first election. Edwards’ Conservative-leaning stances that attracted Republicans during his first election could seem more moderate when compared to Rispone’s. Edwards also can’t count on the same wave of support from Republican voters who had become fatigued with their party as they had with Edwards’ predecessor, former Governor Bobby Jindal.
He’s also almost certain to face critiques from Republican officials who held onto seats in Statewide offices after the primary, including one of his harshest critics Jeff Landry. And, he can expect to fight off attacks from the major Republican competitor who failed to beat Rispone to secure the runoff, Ralph Abraham.
Abraham secured 24% of the vote in the election. Once it became clear he wouldn’t be the Republican candidate to challenge Edwards, he threw his support behind Rispone.
“Understand this, the progress that we made is still at stake,” said Edwards in a speech as it became clear he’d be heading for a runoff. "It only takes one person putting Washington style politics over the people of Louisiana to reverse everything that we have worked so hard together to accomplish.”
While the fight to restore balance to Louisiana’s finances defined the first half of Edwards’ tenure, he’s in for what may be an even more defining battle as he defends his seat.
“Over the next five weeks, the partisan forces in Washington, D.C., are going to pull out all the stops,” Edwards warned his supporters.
The three other candidates in the race for governor collectively secured 3% of the vote. It’s unclear if they’ll support Edwards or Rispone for the runoff.