As of 10:30 p.m. local time with 99% of the vote counted, Mr. Edwards leads Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone by almost 40,000 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast, according to unofficial returns posted on the website of the secretary of state.
Louisiana Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone next to his wife Linda Rispone after he addresses supporters at his election night watch party at L'Auberge Casino and Hotel in Baton Rouge, La., Nov. 16, 2019.
But the president's interest in the race not only motivated conservative Republicans, but also powered a surge in anti-Trump and black voter turnout that helped boost Edwards.
The President was desperate to capture Louisiana´s governorship for the GOP after Democrats ousted a Republican incumbent in Kentucky despite Trump´s intervention.
A West Point graduate, Edwards campaigned to voters as a Louisiana Democrat with political views that sometimes don't match his party's leaders. As in Louisiana, Kentucky is a deeply conservative state (it voted for Trump by almost 30 points in 2016) and the president had campaigned aggressively for the Republican candidate.More news: Deputy tackles teen quadruple amputee in group home
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Still, the tenor of Edwards' campaign focused nearly entirely on state-based issues. Bel Edwards, who is the only sitting Democratic governor of a Deep South state, distinguished himself from other Democrats nationally by having conservative stances on hot button issues like abortion rights and gun control.
"They talk about I'm some sort of a radical liberal". Rispone says he's like Trump, calling himself a "conservative outsider" whose business acumen will help solve Louisiana's problems. We have to do something different, ' Rispone said.
"Rispone has run such a Trump-specific campaign". "We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation". "I am squarely in the middle of the political spectrum", Edwards said, according to The Associated Press. "You know, I have never been more hopeful that Louisiana's best days are ahead, because we've proven what we can do when we put people over politics". 'That hasn't changed, and that´s the way we've been governing'.
Tour guide Andrea Hartman, 40, cast her ballot for Edwards in New Orleans. Rispone got 27% of the vote, Republican Ralph Abraham got 24%, and Republican Patrick Landry got 1%. A longtime donor, he spent millions of dollars of his own money on his campaign. He promised tax cuts, without saying where he´d shrink spending, and he pledged a constitutional convention, without detailing what he wanted to rewrite.
He told his supporters: "We have nothing to be ashamed of". Get out and VOTE for @EddieRispone to be your next Gov!' the Commander-in-chief wrote.