BATON ROUGE, La. (NBC Local 33)(Fox 44) – The deep South’s lone Democratic governor has won a second term in office.
John Couvillon of JMC Analytics & Polling is calling incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards as the projected winner of the Louisiana governor’s race over Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.
Edwards gained 51% of votes (774,469) while Rispone earned 49% (734,128).
Edwards carried East Baton Rouge parish with 66% (104,022) of the vote.
The race remained neck and neck through out the night as results rolled in with candidates trading first and second place repeatedly, mostly staying within 3 percentage points of each other.
During the campaign, Edwards pointed to successes from his first four years in office including the elimination of an inherited $2 billion dollar deficit and aquiring a pay raise for teachers as reasons he deserved a second term.
Edwards also tried to appeal to conservative voters by touting his military background and his conservative views on the hot button cultural issues of abortion and gun rights.
Rispone loaned his campaign $10 million early on in the election cycle as part of his successful bid to become the Republican nominee, upsetting Rep. Ralph Abraham in the October primary election.
Rispone relied on his similarites with President Donald Trump as a major part of his strategy, selling himself as someone who was a political outsider and a businessman who could create jobs.
President Trump visited Louisiana three times in the weeks before the election campaigning to replace Gov. Edwards with a republican.
In his victory speech, Edwards made refernce to Trump’s efforts saying “And as for the president, God bless his heart.”
The governor pointed to workforce training, early childhood education, equal pay for women, and raising the minimum wage as areas of focus for his second term.
“Seven dollars and a quarter is not a meaningful wage,” said Gov. Edwards in his victory speech Saturday night.
In his concession speech Rispone thanked his supporters for their hard work and asked them to give themselves, and President Trump, a round of applause.
The Baton Rouge businessman admitted his disappointment but said he has no issue going back to the life he had before with his 7 children and 24 grandchildren.
Edwards is the first democratic governor in the state to win re-election since Edwin Edwards in 1975.