Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff; Trump urged his defeat
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards' quest for a second term as the Deep South's only Democratic governor will stretch over another month, as voters in his crimson state denied him a primary win Saturday and sent him to a runoff election.
The Democratic incumbent was unable to top 50 percent of the vote in the six-candidate field, raising questions about his re-election chances against a national Republican offensive that includes President Donald Trump. Trump made a last-minute appeal to Louisiana's voters to reject Edwards.
Edwards will compete in the Nov. 16 runoff against businessman Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman and longtime GOP political donor making his first bid for public office. Rispone largely self-financed his campaign, reaching the second-place spot after outspending fellow Republican contender U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham 5-to-1.
"We've got a little more work to do," Edwards told supporters Saturday night. He added: "My fellow Louisianans, we are not going backward. That is exactly what Eddie Rispone would have us do. He wants to put us right back on the path that led us into the ditch."
Rispone said Abraham called to congratulate him on the race and immediately offer his support.
"With your prayers, we're going to win. This is just the first step," Rispone said to cheering supporters. "We're going to turn this state around."
Five Republican statewide elected officials on the ballot won re-election to new four-year terms: Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder, Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin was forced into a runoff.
Trump praised the outcome of Saturday's election and took credit for keeping Edwards from a primary victory.
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