Sam Hanna Jr.

What is Gov. John Bel Edwards really up to?

That’s a fair question to pose in light of the steady decline in the number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in Louisiana, or died from it, in the last few months while the governor has kept the state and its economy on semi-lockdown.

Such is life in Louisiana these days, or in this presidential election year when anything and everything seems to be tied to the dreaded coronavirus, politics and race. These circumstances have allowed hard-headed, thin-skinned politicians, including Edwards, to reveal their true colors, or rule with a heavy hand.

It didn’t come as a surprise in this corner when Edwards declared late last month that Louisiana would remain firmly planted in Phase II of the nationwide emergence from the coronavirus sequester, which has ruled our lives since March. The governor cautioned that lifting restrictions on individuals and businesses could prompt the virus to surge anew. Never mind that scores of individuals and businesses in Louisiana are hanging on by a thread financially.

Now that colleges and universities have opened their doors to students again we’ve observed a slight uptick in the number of people who have tested positive for the virus, but it was entirely expected. So much so that LSU’s interim president, Tom Galligan, said classes at the state’s flagship university would rock on. Wonder if Galligan cleared it with boss man, aka Edwards, before he spoke up?

Edwards knew the beginning of the school year would yield an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, especially since an eye-popping 500,000 coronavirus tests were administered in Louisiana in August alone. That’s far more than the 200,000 tests Edwards previously said he hoped to see administered each month.

What changed?

Even the most optimistic among us must wonder whether any of the continued strangling of individual rights as well as the Louisiana economy is necessary. The governor obviously believes it is, which seems to conflict with opinions far and wide that the current of state of affairs in America, including living with the coronavirus sans a vaccine, represents the “new normal.” We should just get used to it, we’re told. If that’s the case, why not fully reopen the state’s economy and drop the mask mandate? After all, if we are living in a “new normal,” shouldn’t we get used to it?

Earlier this year when the state Legislature was in session, Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, began circulating a petition among members of the House of Representatives to overturn Edwards’ executive order that neutered life as we know it, including restrictions on restaurants, church attendance and so on. Let’s not forget about those damned masks.

Seabaugh’s petition only needed the signatures of a simple majority of the House, or 53, for the governor’s executive order to be overturned. He came up short, but Seabaugh circulated the petition when the coronavirus numbers were far worse than they are today.

Seabaugh should recirculate his petition, and since Republicans claim to be opposed to big government, every single Republican in the House should sign it forthwith. Every last one of them.

And since politics is about keeping score, Seabaugh should disclose the names of the House members who refuse to sign his petition. Voters have a right to know whether their state representative sides with Edwards or believes in individual freedom and a free-market economy. It’s that simple.

If Republicans in the House are reluctant to buck the governor, maybe they should pay attention to what’s going on in the Baton Rouge mayor’s race. Jordan Piazza, a Republican small business owner, is running on a campaign platform of fully reopening the economy in East Baton Rouge Parish, a conservative bastion it is not.

Guess what? Piazza’s message is resonating with voters while the other Republicans in the race hoe to keep-the-economy-closed side of the row.

That tells us it’s time for Seabaugh to make a move. End this madness.

Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at

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