By the time the final whistle is blown in LSU’s grudge match at Ole Miss Saturday night we should have a pretty good idea who was elected governor, assuming there is no overtime.
It was just yesterday, it seems, that Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, a Republican, announced he would take on Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat from Amite seeking his second term in office.
Rispone earned his shot at Edwards in the Nov. 16 general election after running second in the primary last month though his highly negative campaign to hold off Congressman Ralph Abraham, a Republican as well, may cost Rispone dearly in Saturday’s voting. That all depends on how many Abraham supporters refuse to vote for Rispone because of what he did to their guy.
For the past month we’ve been exposed to a healthy dose of meaningless television commercials aired by the Edwards and Rispone campaigns, and if you believed any of the biting criticisms each candidate has leveled at his opponent, you may have concluded that neither of them deserves to get elected. Yet, that’s life in modern-day campaigning for public office. Second place (in a runoff) is for losers, and to avoid becoming a loser, a candidate must convince a majority of the electorate that his opponent is a complete and total scumbag.
Please spare me the whining about how negative campaigning bothers you or insults your intelligence. The bottom line is it works and as long as it works candidates will continue to do it.
That doesn’t change the fact that Edwards and Rispone denied the voters an opportunity to learn what each candidate would do or aim to accomplish if he’s elected governor. Edwards has said very little about what a second Edwards administration hopes to achieve, and all we know about Rispone is he supports President Donald Trump and he would convene a constitutional convention to rewrite the state Constitution though he has refused to disclose any details about what a new Constitution would say. The latter is very concerning.
Edwards must be feeling pretty good about his chances at becoming the first Democrat governor in Louisiana to serve two consecutive terms since Edwin Edwards did it from 1972-1980. At least he should in light of the massive turnout among black voters during early voting. When early voting came to a close this past weekend, some 31 percent of the voters were black.
That’s slightly more than Edwards needs to secure a second term, assuming black voters account for no less than 29 percent of the electorate on election day and as long as Edwards can pull roughly 30 percent of the white vote.
The hyper turnout in the black community during early voting means Republicans need to reach 43 percent of the electorate on election day. That’s not impossible, but it’s a huge hill to climb.
Still, this election isn’t over. President Trump stumped for Rispone last week in Monroe and will stage a rally for Rispone in Shreveport later this week. The question is will Trump’s involvement motivate voters who may not be enthusiastic about Rispone to get off their tails and vote for him on Saturday.
On the flip side, the president’s multiple trips to Louisiana — don’t forget about his rally in Lake Charles last month — may very well motivate black voters to turn out in droves this weekend. Remember, blacks in Louisiana don’t like him.
But who likes to deal with hypotheticals?
Let’s just have the damn election and get it over with.
Sam Hanna Jr. can be reached by phone at 318-805-8158 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.