Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has won re-election in the state’s runoff election, defeating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone and fending off an effort by President Trump to turn the office red.
Edwards thanked supporters at a victory rally late Saturday where he appeared to acknowledge Trump’s presence in the race, saying, “And as for the president, God bless his heart.”
Rispone, after his loss, reportedly urged his supporters to give Trump a round of applause, saying, “That man loves America and he loves Louisiana.”
Rispone’s defeat came just hours after Trump threw one last endorsement his way before the polls closed.
The race was widely seen as a test of Trump’s own popularity amid an impeachment inquiry against him.
It may have been Rispone who appeared on the ballot as the challenger to the incumbent Edwards, but Trump injected himself into the race and made clear to Louisiana voters that a loss for Rispone would be felt very personally by the president. Rispone was even described as “pro-Trump” on some of his campaign flyers.
“I really need you … to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington,” Trump told voters at a rally in Bossier City on Thursday, urging the crowd to “fire your far-left governor.”
It was Trump’s third visit to Louisiana in a month to rally voters against Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.
“So you’ve gotta give me a big win, please. OK?” Trump said.
His plea sounded strikingly similar to remarks he made to voters in Kentucky ahead of the state’s gubernatorial race earlier this month, when he said a vote for the Democratic candidate over the incumbent Republican he was backing would send a “really bad message” and “you can’t let that happen to me.”
It just so happened that Trump’s appeal to voters in Louisiana came just hours after that same Kentucky Republican he’d endorsed conceded defeat.