Sam Hanna Jr.

Can President Donald Trump elect Eddie Rispone governor?

More specifically, will Trump’s campaigning for Rispone in north Louisiana this week and next week be sufficient to motivate Republicans and traditional conservatives to turn out in numbers great enough for Rispone, a Republican, to unseat Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards in the Nov. 16 general election?

Those questions most likely have been tossed around in the Rispone camp since Saturday when black voters comprised some 31 percent of the votes cast on the first day of early voting for the general election, which represented a dramatic improvement compared to the 25-percent turnout among blacks on the first day of early voting for the Oct. 12 primary. Make no mistake, Edwards will capture more than 90 percent of the votes cast by blacks. Vote Democrat is simply what black voters do, by and large, though it’s been to their detriment for more than 50 years now.

Meanwhile, Republicans only accounted for 39 percent of the early votes cast over the weekend. A month ago, Republicans logged more than 40 percent of the votes on the first day of early voting.

On the surface, it would appear Edwards and the organizations supporting his campaign are succeeding in doing the one thing they had to do if Edwards had any hope of becoming the first Democrat governor to serve two consecutive terms since Edwin Washington Edwards did it in the 1970s. That is, they possibly are in the process of turning out black voters in numbers not seen since EWE squared off with former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in the 1991 governor’s race. You may recall how that one played out.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that black voters have become keenly interested in the governor’s race. After all, race, or racism, was interjected into the fray in a big way over the past week, specifically in New Orleans where black voters could very well decide the outcome of the election.

In the Big Easy, a political action committee called Black Organization for Leadership has been airing radio commercials comparing Rispone and Trump to Duke. New Orleans City Councilman Jay Banks, who is black, narrated the commercial.

“What is the difference between David Duke, Eddie Rispone and Donald Trump? The only difference is that Eddie Rispone will be governor if you do not stop him,” Banks said in the commercial.

Campaigns are about turning out voters. More often than not, motivating voters entails tapping their raw emotions, including appealing to their worst fears or their greatest concerns.

For Democrats, a strong turnout among black voters is an absolute necessity to enjoy any success in any election. That means, anything and everything goes in order to motivate blacks to vote Democrat. And that includes playing the race card, or hollering and screaming about racism.

Years ago, a political operative friend of mine remarked and I quote, “When it gets hard, play the card.”

Obviously that’s exactly what Edwards is doing.

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