Candidates qualify in Louisiana governor’s race

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Louisiana’s race for governor is a bit more official, after the state’s Democratic incumbent and two major Republican challengers registered their bids Tuesday.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone each filed the paperwork needed to qualify for the state’s highest elected office. After signing their forms, all three argued why voters should support them on the Oct. 12 ballot.

Edwards, first elected in 2015, billed his bid as a continuation of momentum. He touted his role in stabilizing the state budget after his Republican predecessor’s two terms.

“If we’re going to continue to move in this new and better direction, you can’t entrust the governorship of Louisiana to people who were the biggest supporters of Bobby Jindal,” said Edwards, the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor.

The governor also noted his executive order to expand Medicaid, as well as criminal justice reforms that lowered Louisiana’s once-highest-in-the-nation lockup rate.

Abraham, a licensed medical doctor and veterinarian, said while he opposed Edwards’ decision to expand Medicaid, he would not repeal the program if elected. 

“We’re not ones to look back in the rear view mirror,” Abraham said. “We’re going to look out the front windshield.”

The Republican congressman from North Louisiana argued that high taxes have chased Louisianians from the state.

“We know the state can do better, has to do better, will do better,” he said.

Rispone, a businessman and first-time candidate, denounced the role of so-called “career politicians” in executive roles.

“We have to do something that’s totally different,” he said. “It’s time to get someone different if we want to expect a different outcome.”

Rispone called for a constitutional convention to limit dedicated spending. He pledged to lower taxes, including the sales tax that lawmakers renewed in 2018.

The Republican has aligned heavily with President Donald Trump’s immigration stances. He stressed that undocumented immigration remains an issue in the state.

“When we have 70,000 illegal immigrants in our state, that’s the sixth-largest city in Louisiana,” Rispone said.

The U.S. Department of Justice has not classified any Louisiana municipalities as sanctuary cities.

Two other aspiring governors filed their qualification papers Tuesday: Oscar “Omar” Dantzler, a Democrat from Tangipahoa Parish; Patrick “Live Wire” Landry, a Republican from New Orleans.

If no gubernatorial candidates win more than half of the vote on Oct. 12, the top two vote-collectors will face off Nov. 16.

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