Incumbent wins tight gubernatorial race despite presidents strong support of Republican Eddie Rispone

Louisianas Democrat governor, John Bel Edwards, has been re-elected following a closely fought gubernatorial battle that marked another statewide defeat for Republicans and Donald Trump in the American south.

The president had invested significant resources into the race in one of Americas most conservative states, making two trips to appear with the GOP candidate, Eddie Rispone, in the past two weeks. On election day Trump took to Twitter multiple times to urge Republican voters in Louisiana to turn up to the polling booths.

Although Rispone lost by a thin two-point margin, the defeat is a substantial blow to the president following the loss of another Republican governor in Kentucky last month. Trump won Louisiana with 58% of the vote in 2016 and the state has not elected a Democrat president since Bill Clinton in 1996.

Edwards, a socially conservative Democrat who supported the states regressive abortion laws and who has upheld expansive gun rights, mobilized a base in Louisianas major metropolitan areas and swept up the vast majority of African American voters across the state to claim victory.

Tonight the people of Louisiana have chosen to chart their own path, Edwards said at a victory party on Saturday night, before proceeding to mock Trump in the lexicon of the American south. And as for the president, God bless his heart, he said.

During his concession speech in front of a muted crowd, Rispone thanked the president for his intervention in the race. That man loves America and he loves Louisiana, he said.

Centrist Democrats in the 2020 presidential race immediately seized on Edwards victory to bolster the argument that the party should nominate a candidate who can appeal to conservative voters.

Tonights win is proof that we dont have to just be a party of the coasts, said Montana governor Steve Bullock.

If we work hard and show up we can win everywhere. Democrats have won huge elections in the last two weeks by focusing on the challenges that people face in their daily lives. If we ignore these lessons, were going to lose in 2020.

Still, the tenor of Edwards campaign focused almost entirely on state-based issues. The governor pushed his record expanding healthcare in the state, raising the pay of teachers, and stabilizing the states economy in the wake of a multibillion dollar deficit left by the previous Republican administration, under former governor Bobby Jindal.

It was Rispone who sought, unsuccessfully, to frame the election in the context of national politics. He sought to tie Edwards to Democrats efforts in Washington to impeach Trump, and branded him as a progressive liberal in opposition to the states conservative values.

Rispone, a wealthy entrepreneur and Republican donor who had not previously run for office, also attempted to present himself as a political outsider in the same vein as Trump.



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