End of an Era

Last Hurrah for Iconic Louisiana Politician

Edwin Edwards has been a governor, a congressman, and a federal prisoner. He’s trying to make a comeback, but this is likely his last run at office.

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Saturday will likely mark the last hurrah for one of the most colorful politicians in American history, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards. The octogenarian Democrat has served 16 years as Governor of the Pelican State, seven years representing it in Congress and eight years in federal prison. Now, the 87-year-old is hoping to mount a political comeback on Saturday in his runoff against Republican Garrett Graves in Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District.

The longtime Louisiana pol told The Daily Beast, that his appeal wasn’t necessarily partisan in a state and a region where Democrats have struggled in recent years. “I like to tell people Republicans took over the House on November 4 and can pass whatever the hell they want to pass. They don’t need my opponent or me in Washington to help them.” Instead, he focused on trying to get federal aid to help Louisiana’s battered coast and marshland, which is rapidly disappearing. He went after Graves for playing a key role in killing a lawsuit against 97 oil companies for their role in damaging the state’s wetlands, something he said would make efforts for federal money difficult. As Edwards put it, “Congress is saying, ‘You all didn’t make any effort to get money from those responsible. So why should we help?’” He went to say that “whatever bad things people say about me, if all of them were true—and they’re not—still not as bad as what he did killing that lawsuit.”

Edwards, though, faces an uphill battle. He’s running in the 24th most Republican seat in Congress where Mitt Romney won by a 2 to 1 margin in 2012 and the lone public poll in the race has him down 25 points. However, Edwards was undaunted in a phone interview with The Daily Beast on Friday and thought the race was “a tossup” and “will depend much on who gets out to vote tomorrow.” He declared himself “satisfied with that scenario” noting that his campaign had a “better GOTV operation.”

However, others are more pessimistic. A Democratic strategist in Washington familiar with the race said he expected the final result not to deviate too much from the public polling and even Edwards admitted that of all three Democrats on the ballot in Louisiana on Saturday that “I would not bet any of them.” He did make clear though that he had the best chance.

In the meantime, Edwards is still feisty and hoping to return to a Congress that he last served in during the Nixon Administration. “Let it be known,” he proclaimed “I’m 87 years, in good health, work all day long, and most of the night . . . [and] anxious to serve in Congress because I have much to offer in experience and maturity.”