Louisiana Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards has managed to win a second term by beating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone by 1.4 percentage points on Saturday.
This narrow win means that Edwards will remain the only Democratic governor in the US’ Deep South over the next four years.
“Our shared love for Louisiana is always more important than the partisan differences that sometimes divide us. And as for the president, God bless his heart,” Edwards told supporters.
A wealthy businessman and long-time Republican donor, Rispone, in turn, admitted that “I am disappointed, if I am being very honest.”
“By the way, can we give President Trump a round of applause? That man loves America and he loves Louisiana. He came down here three times specifically to try and help us,” he added.
The remarks came hours after Trump went on Twitter, urging voters to cast ballots in favour of Rispone.
Louisiana, 3 hours left, get out and Vote for @EddieRispone for Governor. Lower taxes and much more!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2019
Over the past five weeks, he has visited three Louisiana rallies to try and add to ousting Edwards.
During a rally in Bossier City on Thursday, Trump said that electing Rispone would help local Republicans to send “a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington”.
Louisiana is Trump country! Thank you @realdonaldtrump for coming down to help us get out the vote. There are only three days left of early voting, geaux vote so we can fire the liberal, tax and spend career politician, @JohnBelForLA, and Make Louisiana Great Again. #LAgov pic.twitter.com/ThV3LRT29D— Eddie Rispone (@EddieRispone) November 7, 2019
"You've got to give me a big win, OK?" Trump told the rally at the time. Earlier, the Republican National Committee spent $2 million to defeat Edwards, but to no avail.
Even though he faces possible Republican super majorities in both chambers of the Louisiana legislature during his second term, Edwards voiced hope that he would find common ground with lawmakers.
“Practically every major thing I’ve done as governor was done on a bipartisan basis,” he pointed out.
Another Blow to Trump
"Following the Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives in 2018 and the election of a Democrat as Governor of Kentucky, the re-election of Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in Louisiana adds to President Donald Trump’s recent string of political defeats," says Rogers Smith, professor of political science and President of the American Political Science Association.
"Edwards is a conservative, so his election does not mean that “red” states are turning “blue” in their policy views, though he did champion expansion of Medicare. But President Trump visited the state twice in the closing days of the campaign, and both he and Republican candidate Eddie Rispone portrayed the governor’s race as a referendum on the Trump administration. Casting their ballots amidst televised impeachment hearings and a couple of days after yet another Trump ally, Roger Stone, was convicted of a crime, the voters of Louisiana chose not to vote for a candidate just because he was for Trump," Smith said.