Could a Democratic challenger change Gov. Edwards’ chance of winning without a runoff?

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Pro-choice on abortion and backing legalized recreational marijuana, Oscar “Omar” Dantzler says he is campaigning to the left of a fellow Democrat, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

“Right now, the state of Louisiana is in a mess,” Dantzler said. “I strongly believe that the Democratic Party should get out and vote for me and support me, if they want changes.”

While polls show Edwards dwarfing Dantzler, political pollster John Couvillon says the Democratic challenger from Hammond could yield some influence. The 3 percent of polled voters — plus the 4 percent margin of error — could equal the difference between the governor winning the 50 percent needed to avoid a Nov. 16 runoff and stretching the governor’s race five more weeks.

“It’s more likely there will be a runoff than not,” Couvillon said.

But the pollster doesn’t see Dantzler’s primary challenge hurting Edwards’ hopes of a runoff win.

“All runoff matchups show [Dantzler’s] votes would go back to Edwards starting Oct. 13,” Couvillon said.

Dantzler, meanwhile, maintains he is more than just a downballot protest vote.

“We’re still in this race until Saturday comes, because it could turn out to be a big difference,” he said, downplaying concerns of limited funds. “Jesus didn’t have $5 million, but look what he did. A lower person came as a servant and turned the world upside down, you see?”

Edwards’ campaign aides maintain the governor still has a chance of winning a second term Saturday — with no two-candidate runoff needed.

“Despite this pollster’s history of underrating Gov. Edwards by 5 to 10 percent, this poll shows Gov. Edwards in an incredibly strong position in the final week of the election,” campaign spokesman Eric Holl told BRProud.com in a statement Wednesday. “Gov. Edwards has gained from the previous Nexstar poll, is within reach of winning on October 12th, and is leading his opponents by wide margins.”

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