Republicans are claiming victory in Lousiana after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards failed to win more than 50 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff in his re-election campaign.
Edwards, a conservative, pro-life Democrat who signed Lousiana’s heartbeat bill earlier this year, won 46.6 percent of the vote in the multiparty primary. Edwards faced a total of five other candidates in the primary.
Republican Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman, finished second with 27.4 percent of the vote. Edwards and Rispone will face off in the general election on Nov. 16.
Republicans are encouraged because Ralph Abraham, another Republican, finished third with 23.6 percent. The combined total for the two Republicans was 51 percent of the vote, which means that, if Republicans can manage to turn out their voters again next month, they may be able to eke out a victory against Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the South. The three other candidates in the race, another Republican, another Democrat, and an independent, each garnered less than one percent of the vote.
The national Republican Party staged a large push late in the campaign against Edwards. The effort included a rally by President Trump in Lake Charles on the night before the election.
Forcing a runoff does not mean that the Republicans are assured of victory, however. In the 2015 election, Edwards again won a plurality in the primary in which three Republican candidates split a total of 57 percent of the vote. In the runoff, Edwards beat Republican David Vitter by 56 – 44 percent.