By Jeff Crouere
In 2016, President Donald Trump carried Louisiana with 58% of the vote. Every Louisiana statewide elected official, except one, is a Republican. The Louisiana Legislature has a strong Republican majority and the state’s six-member congressional delegation has only one Democrat.
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Clearly, Louisiana is a conservative, Republican state; but it is led by a Governor, John Bel Edwards, who is a Democrat. Edwards was elected in 2015 because of his opponent’s personal and political baggage, which is why his victory has been called a fluke by many political observers.
As Governor Edwards runs for re-election this fall, he has amassed over $10 million in his campaign war chest. However, he will have to answer for increasing the size of state government, supporting tax increases and an anemic record of job creation. In fact, last year, Louisiana was the only state in the nation to lose jobs and, not surprisingly, Louisiana was one of only eight states in the nation to suffer a loss of population, which is mostly due to the anti-business policies of the Governor.
According to a wide variety of measures, Louisiana, under the leadership of Governor Edwards is doing very poorly. For example, the latest report by SeniorLiving.org places Louisiana 47th among states on possibly the most important ranking. The standard life expectancy in Louisiana is 75.6 years, three years below the national average. The researchers pointed to cancer and heart disease as the cause for 90% of the deaths in the state.
The personal finance website Wallethub regularly provides state rankings on a range of issues. In recent months, Louisiana ranked as the worst state in the nation for women based on economic, health, safety, and social well-being factors. It is most likely the worst state in the nation for men as well.
On the issue of economic performance, Wallethub listed Louisiana as 50th among the states. It also ranked Louisiana as the most environmentally unfriendly state in the nation. In their most depressing survey, Wallethub discovered that Louisiana is the most stressed state in the nation. Obviously, the people of Louisiana are worried about the bad economy, the high crime rate, the poor environment, the inadequate healthcare and the crumbling infrastructure.
On other important metrics, the results under Governor Edwards have been horrific. Currently, the state of Louisiana is saddled with the highest sales tax rate in the nation, the second highest incarceration rate, and ranks as the most violent state in the country.
Despite all these problems, some analysts believe Edwards will win a second term because he is conservative on some social issues. In his campaign commercials, the Governor often touts his pro-Second Amendment and his pro-life record. Politically, one of the reasons that the Governor openly expresses his pro-life views is that he knows the position is popular in Louisiana.
A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute discovered that Louisiana is the most pro-life state in the nation with 60% of the respondents maintaining that abortion should be illegal. The survey showed a mere 34% of the participants support abortion rights in “most or all cases.” The nationwide results are much different with only 40% supporting a pro-life position and 54% supporting the pro-choice viewpoint.
On this issue, the people of Louisiana are at odds with the rest of the nation, while Governor Edwards is at odds with the Democratic Party, especially those leaders located outside of Louisiana.
In his re-election campaign, Edwards will need to have the strong financial backing of national Democrats who are pro-choice. He will also have to convince more liberal pro-choice Democrats in Louisiana to support him despite his pro-life views, while, simultaneously, persuading more moderate Democrats, Independents and Republicans that he is truly pro-life and to support him as well.
It is a balancing act that will require tremendous campaign skills, but we have seen impressive political dexterity from Edwards in the past few years. Nevertheless, one surefire way for his opponents to score political points against Edwards is to tie him to the unpopular views of the national Democratic Party. Surely, Edwards will have to support the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. This nominee, whether it is former Vice President Joe Biden or any of the other candidates, will be staunchly pro-choice.
His opponents can ask how Edwards can be truly pro-life? He will support a Democratic Party presidential nominee, who, if elected, will advocate abortion rights and will nominate pro-choice U.S. Supreme Court judges to make sure it will always be a legal right in this country.
This may be one of the many issues that Edwards will have to address in the weeks ahead as he attempts to win a second term. He certainly has the power of incumbency, the support of the liberal statewide media, and an impressive war chest. Nonetheless, one of his major liabilities is that he is a member of a political party that is unpopular in Louisiana. If his opponents can closely tie him to that liberal party platform, and the progressive candidates that lead the Democratic Party, he will be in danger of losing the election.
Jeff Crouere is a native New Orleanian and his award winning program, “Ringside Politics,” airs locally at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and at 10:00 p.m. Sundays on PBS affiliate WLAE-TV, Channel 32, and from 7-11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990-AM & www.Wgso.com. He is a political columnist, the author of America’s Last Chance and provides regular commentaries on the Jeff Crouere YouTube channel and on www.JeffCrouere.com. For more information, email him at [email protected]