BATON ROUGE, La. (WVLA/WGMB) — Democrat John Bel Edwards’ victory in deep red Louisiana four years ago won national intrigue. But it’s the state issues the incumbent governor hopes will spark a second term.
“The deficits are behind us,” Edwards, the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor, said in an interview this week. “We’ve had three consecutive surpluses, so have the opportunity now to continue to govern responsibly but make necessary investments.”
The governor says he’d like to raise public teacher salaries to the Southern regional average. He also wants to invest more in early childhood education and in keeping the TOPS tuition aid program afloat — with help from a sales tax the Republican-led Legislature agreed to renew last year.
“Everything I’ve done has been bipartisan, and we moved our state forward,” the governor said. “We’re in a much better position.”
While Republican challenger Eddie Rispone suggests state government leaders take cues from President Donald Trump, Edwards argues he likes his politics closer to home.
“My opponent has no choice but to try and nationalize this election because his vision for the State of Louisiana is one that would take us back to the failed policies of Bobby Jindal.”
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have spent recent weeks attending multiple campaign rallies for Rispone across Louisiana. The president made his most recent trip Thursday night to Bossier City.
Edwards maintains his working ties with Trump remain strong. The two have met numerous times to discuss criminal justice and infrastructure matters.
“He’s doing what political leaders and political parties always do,” the governor said. “But at the end of the day, there will be a season to govern. It will start Monday, and that good working relationship will resume.”
The polls open at 7 a.m. Saturday and close at 8 p.m.