BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — With bill signings and legislative session action complete, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is shifting attention to his re-election campaign, traveling the state to meet with teachers and veterans and planning a statewide RV tour that begins Saturday.
The Deep South’s lone Democratic governor faces two major GOP challengers trying to keep him from a second term: U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a doctor from Richland Parish, and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, a longtime donor to conservative causes and first-time candidate.
The election is Oct. 12. A runoff, if needed, will be held Nov. 16.
Edwards did a statewide tour when he ran for governor four years ago, and this year’s recreational vehicle trip will follow a similar path.
He’ll start Saturday in Tangipahoa Parish at an event hall in his hometown of Amite. Additional stops are planned Monday in New Orleans; Tuesday in Lafayette and Lake Charles; Wednesday in Alexandria and Shreveport; and Thursday in Monroe. He’ll wrap up Thursday night at a rally in Baton Rouge.
“Continuing a tradition he started in 2015, Gov. Edwards is kicking off campaign season by taking his case directly to the people of Louisiana,” Edwards campaign spokesman Eric Holl said in a statement. “He looks forward to talking to voters about how much better off Louisiana is today than four years ago.”
The campaign is inviting supporters in each region to the events, and also will post details on its social media accounts.
Beyond the RV tour, Edwards has held campaign stops with Louisiana’s public school educators and veterans to tout accomplishments from the legislative session that ended in June. The governor, backed by education unions, won passage of the first statewide teacher pay raise in a decade. Edwards, a former Army Ranger, also received legislative support for the creation of a searchable database to find veteran-owned businesses.
Now, he’s using those victories to campaign for reelection.
Edwards was the first Democrat to win statewide office in Louisiana since 2008.
Republicans have targeted Edwards for ouster since that long-shot election win four years ago. GOP leaders, candidates and lawmakers say Edwards is out of step with the majority of his state’s voters on taxes, spending and other issues. They suggest his victory four years ago was a fluke, against a damaged Republican candidate, David Vitter, who had been hammered by other GOP competitors and struggled to overcome a prostitution scandal.