Dems cel­e­brate vic­tory in Louisiana gov­er­nor race

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NEW OR­LEANS: Democrats in Louisiana re­joiced as they re­claimed the gov­er­nor’s man­sion for the first time in eight years, while the state’s GOP leader in­sisted “our Repub­li­can brand is strong” even amid the de­feat of a one-time po­lit­i­cal pow­er­house, Repub­li­can US Sen David Vit­ter. John Bel Ed­wards’ vic­tory in Satur­day’s runoff elec­tion was once-un­think­able in the con­ser­va­tive state and a stun­ning turn of events for Vit­ter, who started his cam­paign nearly two years ago as the race’s fron­trun­ner. With his 12-per­cent­age point loss, Vit­ter an­nounced he wouldn’t seek re-elec­tion to the Se­nate in 2016.

Ed­wards’ win of­fered a rare pick-up of a gov­er­nor’s seat for Democrats in the con­ser­va­tive Deep South, but Repub­li­can lead­ers in­sisted it was a one-time fluke that didn’t sug­gest the GOP was on the ropes in Louisiana. Repub­li­can Party of Louisiana Chair­man Roger Villere pointed to vic­to­ries for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and at­tor­ney gen­eral and gains in the state Leg­is­la­ture. “Make no mis­take, Louisiana is a deep red state and our Repub­li­can brand is strong,”Villere said in a state­ment lament­ing a “dis­ap­point­ing re­sult in the gu­ber­na­to­rial race.”

The Demo­cratic vic­tory was as much about Vit­ter’s flaws as a can­di­date as it was about Ed­wards’ strengths. Ed­wards painted the race as a ref­er­en­dum on Vit­ter’s char­ac­ter and sug­gested the US se­na­tor didn’t mea­sure up in such a com­pe­ti­tion. Ed­wards, who started the cam­paign as a lit­tle-known law­maker from a ru­ral parish, fo­cused on his West Point de­gree and mil­i­tary re­sume, and he pledged a bi­par­ti­san lead­er­ship style. “The peo­ple have cho­sen hope over scorn, over neg­a­tiv­ity and over dis­trust of oth­ers,” Ed­wards said in his vic­tory speech, be­fore lead­ing a sec­ond-line pa­rade with a jazz band through the French Quar­ter ho­tel ball­room.

In the fi­nal days, Vit­ter sought to rally Repub­li­can vot­ers by draw­ing pol­icy dis­tinc­tions with Ed­wards and making Syr­ian refugee re­set­tle­ment an is­sue in the state cam­paign. But it didn’t work. “I’ve lost one po­lit­i­cal cam­paign in my life, tonight and iron­i­cally it’s the cam­paign and the po­lit­i­cal ef­fort I am most proud of,”Vit­ter told supporters.


The re­buke from Louisiana vot­ers will cre­ate an open Se­nate seat for the 2016 elec­tion, as Vit­ter an­nounced he wouldn’t seek re-elec­tion to Congress. Sev­eral Repub­li­cans al­ready have said they’re in­ter­ested in run­ning for the po­si­tion, in­clud­ing US Reps Charles Bous­tany and John Flem­ing, among oth­ers. Democrats were ec­static as Ed­wards de­fied expectations that only a Repub­li­can could win statewide in Louisiana. He thanked supporters who “be­lieved we could con­found the con­ven­tional wis­dom that this vic­tory just couldn’t hap­pen”. “It did hap­pen,” he said. Rather than a race about the state’s deep fi­nan­cial trou­bles, the con­test for gov­er­nor largely be­came about Vit­ter, who has been in elected of­fice, first as a state law­maker and then in Congress, for more than 20 years. Vit­ter be­gan the elec­tion cy­cle nearly two years ago as the clear fa­vorite. He stock­piled cash for the cam­paign, dwarf­ing all com­peti­tors. — AP

NEW OR­LEANS: Louisiana gov-elect John Bel Ed­wards holds up an um­brella as he re­acts with supporters at his elec­tion night watch party on Satur­day. — AP

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