BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge businessman, Eddie Rispone, has declined an invitation to appear in a debate to be televised across Louisiana on the state’s highest-rated television stations.
Incumbent, Governor John Bel Edwards, agreed to attend the debate. The two men face each other in a runoff Nov. 16.
Thus far, Rispone has agreed to only one debate. Both men will take part in a forum to be televised statewide on Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB) Wednesday, Oct. 30. In the general election, the candidates took part in three statewide debates, including one hosted by Gray Television, which aired three nights before the election. Gray Television invited both candidates to appear in a runoff debate Nov. 12 to be broadcast on WAFB in Baton Rouge, WVUE in New Orleans, KPLC in Lake Charles, KALB in Alexandria, KSLA in Shreveport, and KNOE in Monroe.
“Eddie’s schedule is packed with visits across this state,” Rispone campaign spokeswoman, Ruth Wisher, said in declining the invitation. “He is regularly meeting with business and local leaders to share his vision for Louisiana. Eddie agreed to the debate on Oct. 30 and looks forward to discussing his thoughts on how to do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for America.”
Wisher would not say what plans Rispone has on Nov. 12.
Political analyst, Jim Engster, says Rispone is “taking the path of least resistance” by only agreeing to one debate in the runoff cycle.
“He and his advisers decided there is more risk than benefit in going toe-to-toe more than once with Governor Edwards," Engster said.
Television ratings show significantly more voters watched the general election debate on WAFB in the Baton Rouge market than watched the one on LPB. According to the ratings service Comscore, 31,444 people tuned in to WAFB in the Baton Rouge market for the Oct. 9 debate hosted by Gray stations. The LPB debate on Sept. 26 captured an average audience of just 6,386 in the Baton Rouge market, according to Comscore.