FULL TRANSCRIPT: John Bel Edwards’ victory speech
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - John Bel Edwards’ hard-fought battle to defend his seat ended in victory Saturday, Nov. 16.
“How sweet it is,” exclaimed Edwards as an opener for his victory speech.
The Governor-elect took a moment to relish in the cheers from his supporters with a gracious smile on his face before going on to thank his loved ones, the voters, and his campaign team and administration. Religion and the “bonds” between Louisianans became consistent themes throughout the speech after that, with Edwards at one point commenting on voter turnout among his supporters by saying, “You may have heard me say once or twice that God will order our steps. But we have to move our feet. And you moved your feet to the polls.”
He’d later layout pay equality, investment in education, and advocating to raise minimum wage among his priorities for the next four years.
Among the moments from the speech that earned an explosive reaction from the audience are taunting comments aimed at federal legislators who organized an effort to unseat Edwards.
“If this campaign has taught us anything, it’s that the partisan forces in Washington D.C. are not strong enough to break through the bonds that we share as Louisianans,” said Edwards.
One sneer, in particular, was aimed at President Trump.
“God bless his heart,” mocked Edwards.
Read the full speech below:
"How sweet it is.
Thank you! What a great night it is for Louisiana. And to God be the glory.
My love for this state deepens with every day that I have the honor to serve as your governor because every day I get to meet more Louisianans who remind me how blessed we are to call this great state home.
The goodness, the decency, the generosity of the people of Louisiana inspires me.
Just look around this room. This room looks like the great State of Louisiana.
And this is your night even more than it is mine. You didn’t just vote for me, you voted for four more years of putting Louisiana first.
You may have heard me say once or twice that God will order our steps. But we have to move our feet. And, you moved your feet to the polls.
You picked up phones and you handed out yard signs. You gave your neighbors a ride to the voting precincts. All of you have a reason why this election was important to you, and it may not be the same reason but it’s your collective experiences that make up the story of Louisiana.
And by the way, you showed a lot of good sense because you also voted to reelect my wonderful wife Donna as your first lady. Donna has been the love of my since I was in the seventh grade, y’all. She’s been my wife for more than thirty years. But, over the past four years, she has won the hearts of the people of Louisiana.
She has worked tirelessly on behalf of Louisiana’s children. And I know she is looking forward to continuing that work.
I also want to thank my children because they have sacrificed a lot of time with their papa. And I will tell you my wife and my children had to endure nastiness and silliness that should never be inflicted on anybody.
But you know, no matter how busy this job gets we always find time, me and my family, to be together. And we have shared some pretty special memories over the past few years. Whether it’s going fishing with John Miller, alligator hunting with Sarah Ellen, or celebrating Samantha’s wedding to Johnathan, and we did that a few years ago at the Governor’s Mansion.
But I also want to thank my mother, and my brothers, and my sister. And, I want to thank my in-laws as well, Bobby and Helen. Look, I could not have asked for a more supportive family. And the reason they believed in me is because they know the lessons instilled in us by our parents have guided my steps as governor. Especially our faith and our belief in social justice.
You know, I also want to tell you that I have been blessed with the hardest working, smartest campaign staff that there has ever been. And I want to thank Richard Carbo and all the folks who work for me. I told them on the very first day that we were not going to be outworked and we were not outworked. They poured their hearts into this campaign because they knew that turning back on our progress was quite simply not an option.
And, to my staff in the governor’s office, and my chief of staff Mark Cooper, and all the people who work for me [including] Jay Dardenne, Matthew Block, and all my cabinet officials, I want to thank all of you for your hard work during our first term. And I want to thank you for the good work. You know we faced some major challenges that first year in office, from the budget crisis to historic flooding. But together, we proved that there is no challenge that we cannot overcome.
And one of the first people to share our vision for a better Louisiana was Linda Day who led our first campaign for governor. You know Linda passed away earlier this year after battling cancer. But I know that she is here in spirit tonight and she is proud of the campaign that we ran.
You know I had an opportunity to speak with Eddie Rispone earlier this evening. And I want you to know I thanked him for putting himself out there for public service. It’s a difficult thing for anyone to do. We both agreed that the time for campaigning is over. And now, our shared love for Louisiana is always more important than the partisan differences that sometimes divide us.
And as for the president, God bless his heart.
You know this administration began with a breeze of hope, hope that by working together as Louisianans first and foremost, not as Republicans or Democrats, we could make Louisiana the state that we want it to be. And with every step forward we turned that hope into the action. And that is exactly what we are going to continue to do in our second term.
You know, during the campaign you heard me talk a lot about the progress we made. But in the words of the great Louisiana writer Ernest Gaines who we lost last week, ‘Everything has been said, but it needs saying again.’
We worked together to solve the largest budget deficit in the history of Louisiana. Today more than 460,000 Louisianans have access to life-saving healthcare that they didn’t have before I became governor.
TOPS is fully funded and we’re finally reinvesting in our universities, our community colleges, and our technical colleges. We gave our teachers their first pay raise in a decade. And we made a $20,000,000 downpayment on my number one priority for the second term, and that is early childhood education.
We’ve invested more than $2.8 billion in critical infrastructure improvements to our roads, our bridges, and our ports. And today, we can say that our economy is the biggest it has ever been, personal income is the highest it has ever been, unemployment is at a 12-year low, and we’ve attracted 175 major economic development projects resulting in new capital investment that exceeds 41-and-a-half billion dollars and resulting in more than 36,000 jobs created.
That’s what we’ve been able to do.
But as much as we’ve accomplished, you will agree and I’m the first to acknowledge, there is much work to be done.
Over the next four years, we’re going to increase workforce training, invest more in education at every level beginning with early childhood, we’re going to improve the health outcomes of Louisianans, and we’re going to continue advancing major infrastructure projects.
And we will continue to fight for an increase in the minimum wage because $7-and-a-quarter is not a meaningful minimum wage. And we’re also going to make sure that we pay women what we pay men when they do the same job and have the same qualifications.
I know that we can achieve all of this and more because I’ve seen what we can do when we work together for the good of our state that we call home.
If this campaign has taught us anything, it’s that the partisan forces in Washington D.C. are not strong enough to break through the bonds that we share as Louisianans. I have crisscrossed this state from Bastrop to Houma, from Sulfer to Saint Joseph, and no matter where I go whether it’s the barrooms, or the union halls, the classrooms, church pews, festivals, or football fields, I am reminded that there is far more that unites us than divides us.
You know, we always talk about how unique and beautiful our state is. Case in point, we tailgate and we vote on the same day. And, we had universities score three big wins in the great state of Mississippi, today.
Most importantly, we all scored a big victory in the great state of Louisiana, today.
You know, here in Louisiana, we march to the beat of our own second line. We are rich in culture, natural resources, and diversity. It’s what makes our great state. And tonight, the people of Louisiana have chosen to chart their own path.
You know, I have never been more hopeful that Louisiana’s best day were ahead because we’ve proven what we can do when we put people over politics. Donna and I are incredibly humbled by the trust you’ve placed in us.
I told you four years ago I would not let you down. For the next four years, I promise to work just as hard for you.
And from the bottom of my heart thank you. I love you. Now let’s get back to work together for the great state of Louisiana.
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