Louisiana gubernatorial debate confirmed what other signs had indicated:
Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards
thinks he’s going to lose reelection.
Up to that point, the Edwards reelection had brought
to battle some weaponry of questionable effectiveness in its quest to outpace Republican
businessman Eddie Rispone in the
runoff. It has replicated the 2015 playbook in attacking your runoff opponent,
but this time with a distinct lack of ammunition. So, it has treated the public
about Rispone’s ties to someone who similarly has donated copiously to conservative
candidates, complaining that Rispone wouldn’t show up to every single candidate
forum that issued invitations, and asserting that voters
don’t know what they would get with Rispone in the Governor’s Mansion. In
turn, this makes Rispone, according to Edwards, allied with corruption, shirking
his duties, and too much of a risk in office.
These charges are, of course, nonsense, but they
do serve the purpose of distracting from Edwards’ dismal record in office with –
can’t create jobs under his watch, its economic
growth remains anemic compared to other states, it lags them as well with one of the highest
unemployment rates in the nation, and on a per capita basis had a higher
net population loss last year than all but one state. Meanwhile, taxes
were raised that cost Louisianans over $4 billion more over the course of
Edwards’ term while spending
from state sources increased at almost twice the rate of inflation.
Naturally, and on display at the debate, Edwards
cherry-picks the few, largely meaningless picayunish statistics that run counter
to the negative big picture (such as celebrating a dead cat bounce by saying
for just one recent year the state’s economy grew faster than in most states; regression
to the mean inevitably happens but doesn’t indicate a trend). But his campaign spends
as much effort on trying to trash Rispone on phantom criteria, which Edwards
again pursued almost pathologically throughout the televised forum.
In fact, viewers with no interest in Louisiana
politics perhaps looking for the decisive seventh game of the World Series who
stumbled across the debate might have gotten sucked into it momentarily at the
sight of a wildly expressive, eyes bulging with excitement, well-dressed figure
remonstrating furiously, interrupting often, and constantly complaining. They
would have been surprised to know this panicked visage was that of the state’s
56th governor, looking for all the world like a backwoods Tangipahoa
politician trying to gin up impressionable voters – and failing.
For the first two media questions, Rispone looked and
sounded far cooler and in control than the maniac next to him. Edwards calmed
down afterwards, but then towards the end had something happen indescribable
except as a meltdown when Rispone needled Edwards’ on his inability to achieve
fiscal reform other than by raising the sales tax. If Edwards – who a number of
legislators privately admit flies into rages when he can’t bully them into
toeing his line – acted this way in the Army, he couldn’t be entrusted to lead
effectively even a phalanx of toilet attendants.
All in all, when considering polls show Edwards can’t
reach 50 percent of the intended vote – and keep in mind these
have undercounted Rispone’s support a bit and of those who claim undecided
status in these most will vote for the challenger and the rest won’t show up –
Edwards’ insistence on more and more debates (challengers typically want that in
order to try to catch an incumbent perceived race leader into making a gaffe),
and his attack strategy and unhinged debate behavior, seasoned campaign observers
know indicate a candidate who thinks he’s behind and can’t win without
something big and fortunate happening for him.
This standoff covered almost entirely the same ground
as past efforts, save a startling admission by Edwards: he thinks Louisianans
aren’t taxed enough. Referring back to a Tax Foundation report using 2012 data
that showed the state with one of the lowest tax burdens – even as the interest
group publicly has rebuked Edwards for using old data while more recent studies
by other organizations put the state in the middle – he claimed there was room
to grow on that.
Interestingly, Rispone’s one blunder of the night occurred
when he mixed up this study with the most recent U.S. News annual Best States survey
that keeps putting Louisiana last, although Rispone later corrected himself.
Yet it wouldn’t be a 2019 debate without an Edwards fib, and this time it came
over that study, which Edwards alleged used data from 2014-16 – basically,
before he got things going as governor. In fact, the earliest data
that study uses come from 2015 and most are in the 2017-18 period; for example,
on the economy where Louisiana finished 49th, growth used 2017 data,
employment 2017 and 2018 data, and business environment 2017 and 2018 data. Edwards
is a bald-faced liar; with his policies he owns this awful ranking.
Maybe it’s internal polling data telling him this,
or vibes he’s getting out on the campaign trail, but, from wherever, Edwards’
behavior during the debate showed all the hallmarks of somebody running behind
and desperate to catch up. If that’s what he thinks, be prepared for his
campaign to deliver a fortnight of obfuscation, distortion, extreme exaggerated
hyperbole but, most of all, plain nastiness.
The 2019 Louisiana gubernatorial runoff race is closer
than polling even thinks.
Since the general election put incumbent Democrat
Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican
challenger Eddie Rispone through
to a runoff, two polls independent polls have come out taking the temperature
of the race. We
Ask America had the race tied at 47-all percent, while JMC
Analytics gave Edwards a 48-46 lead.
That’s close, but when breaking down each poll’s
assumptions, things actually tighten more. As a reference point, keep in mind
that on Oct.
12 the electorate was 69.1 percent white, 27.6 percent black, and 3.3 other
race; and 44.9 percent Democrat, 37.1 percent Republican, and 18 percent
other/no party. Further, females comprised 55 percent of the registered
to vote (the state doesn’t keep statistics on proportion of the electorate voting
In Louisiana, it’s not the sex of the candidate that
matters, but their issue preferences.
The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Mark Ballard recently wrote a semi-lament about the
relatively low rates of women winning election to the state Legislature. According
to him, great anticipation existed that this election cycle could turn out as “the
year of the woman,” with females making significant gains in the number of
seats won to drag Louisiana up from the bottom of proportion of women elected
to legislative seats.
Instead, not much progress in the way of numbers
look set to occur. The present legislature has nine Republicans and eight
Democrats among women representatives, and the Senate has two female Republicans
and three such Democrats. After the runoff round concludes, likely Republicans
will increase by two to 11 while Democrats could hold even at eight, while in
the Senate probably the GOP will increase by one to three with Democrats maintaining
Don’t believe the latest narrative forwarded by
Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards
pursuant to his reelection attempt, both uncritically amplified by the media
and rich in irony.
The Edwards campaign has pushed a theme that gubernatorial
runoff opponent Republican Eddie
Rispone gives little in the way of details about his issue preferences,
which media figures and special interests supporting him gleefully have picked
up. Edwards himself alleged that “[n]obody has a clue what this man would do if
he were governor.” My Shana
week claimed so, as have newspaper opinion columnists.
But just because something gets asserted and echoed
doesn’t make it true. Let’s review the latest example of an opinion writer
going wrong on this subject.