Edwards, Rispone launch attacks in Louisiana governor runoff

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Gov. John Bel Edwards (L) Eddie Rispone (R)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and his Republican opponent Eddie Rispone are trading attacks in their first TV ads of the Louisiana governor’s runoff election.

In his 30-second spot released statewide Tuesday, the Deep South’s only Democratic governor suggests that Rispone would return Louisiana to the deficit-riddled days of Republican former Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Rispone’s two new ads — which his campaign said will start airing on Wednesday — double down on the Republican contender’s efforts to tie himself to President Donald Trump, using highlights from Trump’s anti-Edwards rally and not showing Rispone at all.

Speaking directly to the camera, Edwards talks about his bipartisan work to stabilize state finances, an angle aimed at winning the cross-party support he’ll need to defeat Rispone in the Nov. 16 runoff.

“Now we have a choice to make: Let Eddie Rispone drag us back to the deficits and cuts to health care and education of Bobby Jindal or continue moving forward and investing in our future. That is what this election is about,” Edwards says.

Rispone, a wealthy Baton Rouge businessman who has largely self-financed his campaign, has pledged to cut taxes but hasn’t offered any specifics about where he would shrink spending to match the reduced state income. He has said he could run government more efficiently and reduce waste. He also has talked, without details, of holding a constitutional convention to rework provisions governing the budget and taxes, among other items.

But none of those policy positions are featured in Rispone’s 15- and 30-second ads. Those spots feature Trump speaking at a Lake Charles rally last week in which he supported both Rispone and Republican candidate Ralph Abraham, who didn’t reach the runoff.

In one ad, the president hits Edwards for “raising your taxes, killing your jobs, attacking your industries.” The other shows the president describing Rispone as “pro-jobs, pro-worker, pro-family, pro-life.”

“You’ve got to vote John Bel Edwards out,” Trump says in both ads.

Edwards was forced into the runoff against Rispone when the Democratic incumbent failed to top 50% of the vote in Saturday’s primary.

Rispone and Republicans have sought to nationalize the Louisiana governor’s race, tying Edwards to national Democratic leaders in the red state that Trump won by 20 points. Throughout the campaign, Rispone touted his support for Trump and suggested he’s a candidate in the mold of the nontraditional president.

Edwards has downplayed national political issues, instead focusing on achievements in office such as winning bipartisan support for the tax deal that ended nearly a decade of budget crises and created surpluses. He’s talked of the state’s new investments in public colleges and the first statewide teacher raise in a decade.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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