"Overall, I think the Edwards record is a huge help, and I think it's a reason to do as well as a Democrat in deep red," said Pearson Cross, an associate professor of political science at the university. in Louisiana, Lafayette. "His record of subtracting Louisiana from endless budget crises, its record in criminal justice reform, giving teachers their first increase in years, increasing funding for early childhood education – he can point to those victories and to say, "Look, I'm improving the lives of people on earth, I have records. ""
Trump tried to take that record, especially for the economy, for himself, but Edwards didn't put it so easily.
Earlier this month, the White House tweeted: The Pelican State is booming ̵
Edwards tweeted in response with only a trace of sarcasm:" Thank you, I agree. It has taken a lot of hard work, but we are much better than we were four years ago when I took office. And when I get re-elected, we will continue to move our country in the right direction.
In some respects, Edwards is the only figure in this race who seems determined to place the race in national conditions, not national ones. Along with Trump's visits (Vice President Pence came before the October primary), the Republican National Committee this week poured an extra million dollars into the race. The Louisiana Democratic Party is happy to do what Edwards doesn't want by launching Facebook ads warning voters: "If Rispon wins, Trump wins."
Edwards' strategy throughout the race is to refute Trump's sour attacks with piles of Southern grace, at least as far as the president is concerned. When asked at a recent event what he thinks of Trump's regular attacks on the state, he maintained his non-aggression policy.
"It's the political season and he's coming here because his party is expecting him, he's doing what he's expected to do, and it's a very political trip to Louisiana," Edwards said. "Obviously he is president, he is welcome here at all times."
And then just to remind voters how close his working relationship is with the administration, Edwards talks about the nine times he has been invited to White home to meet Trump on issues like transportation infrastructure, the opioid epidemic and criminal justice reform.
"Edwards was an elusive target in terms of being someone President Trump could attack," says John Kuvillon, who worked for Republican reporter Ralph Abraham as a poll participant in 2014 and 2016. " he has shied away from any mention of President Trump and impeachment, and he has avoided open battles with the White House. ”
This kindness is a little less obvious when Edwards talks about his rival.
On Wednesday, Edwards met voters and artists at Studio BE, in a warehouse in Bywater, New Orleans. He touched on his successes locally: Medicaid expansion, education funding, low unemployment. He made a point by reminding his audience of Rispone's previous criticism of New Orleans, an anti-urban talk that Trump had made a major part of his attacks on Democratic leaders.
"[Eddie Rispone] asked me our only single debate in the runoff:" Why do you support New Orleans, which is a sanctuary city? "And my answer was, 'This is a stupid question,' Edwards said. 'You support New Orleans because it is a city in Louisiana that is extremely important to our state. "
Orleans Parish, which went 80 percent for Clinton in 2016, is one of four parishes where earning turnout has reached record levels for the non-presidential year. Perhaps this is a chance to clarify some of the political retaliation against Trump that motivated these voters. Edwards, however, took issue with Rispone's criticism, which listens to Louisiana's recent history rather than national history.
"[Eddie Rispone] is trying to nationalize this race because it's the only shot he has," Edwards said. "He cannot win this race based on the problems of Louisiana because he has not demonstrated any knowledge of how the government of the state works, he has no vision of the state of Louisiana, and so far as he spoke in some specifics about his proposals for politics sound an awful lot like the heated unsuccessful policy of [former Governor] Bobby Jindal who took our country so deep into the ditch. "
This ditch includes a budget deficit of $ 2 billion and cuts to higher education funding – both of which Edwards turned to in his first term. Louisiana has a budget surplus and funding for education has been restored.
Perhaps the most significant element in Edwards' assessment sheet is the expansion of Medicaid. After Edwards' predecessor, Gov. Bobby Jindal, refused to accept the Medicaid extension proposed by the Affordable Care Act in early 2014, it was one of the first things Edwards did when he was sworn into office in 2017.
"And, bangs, about 480,000 people who did not have health insurance received it. It's incredibly huge, it's over 10 percent of the state's population, "said Pearson Cross. "Not to mention the roughly $ 12 billion in federal money coming to Louisiana as a result of Medicaid expansion. He was non-brainwashed. Look, well, we had a Republican governor who didn't – Bobby Jindal – you want to go back there? "
Rispon said that if elected, he would" freeze "Medicaid enrollment – potentially affecting the coverage of seasonal or shift workers and the effective killing of the program. In Kentucky, outgoing governor Matt Bevin also threatened to curtail Medicaid expansion in the state – which will likely cost 400,000 people access to health insurance. Democratic Governor-elect Andy Becher has promised to protect Medicaid in Kentucky (and like Edwards has promised a pay raise for teachers).
The salad letter of Edwards' resume is that he is a Democrat in the saturated red south. Successful record or not, it belongs to the wrong party – something that Rispone and Trump hope to profit from. Rispon "says he wants to do what Donald Trump has done for the nation here in Louisiana," Cross said, "and it's a message that resonates."
Rispon – like Trump – is a businessman. His engineering and construction firm made him one of Louisiana's wealthiest citizens. He uses every opportunity – in debate, in ads and in campaigns – to remind voters that he is not a career politician.
"Rispon has no public profile and has never held public office, so when he announced [his candidacy] and released his first set of ads, he made it clear that he was an ardent supporter of President Trump," Silas Lee, Professor of Public Policy at Xavier University in Louisiana. "And given that this is a very red state, which is very conservative on many issues, which makes sense."
"Insofar as Rispone was successful in stating Trump's mantle," Cross adds, "I think that he will be successful with many Republican voters in Louisiana and conservative voters and people who like Trump. "
After all, the race is likely to be resolved by supporters of the Republican rep. Ralph Abraham, the man who finished third in the Championship in October.
Edwards' primary results of October 12 have an Edwards score of 46.6 percent. Rispon, down 27.4%, gave up Abraham by 23.6% to qualify for the runoff. Cross says these results show that Edwards exceeds expectations for a Democrat in Louisiana.