LOUISIANA
     Nov. 16, 2019 Governor

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+John Bel Edwards (D) i
774,498
51.33%
Eddie Rispone (R)
734,286
48.67%

1,508,784

Plurality: 40,212 votes (2.66 percentage points).
 LA Secretary of State




Notes: This was the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in Louisiana history as Governor John Bel Edwards (D) sought a second term and Republicans went all in to defeat him (+). 

The political terrain was very different than when Edwards defeated scandal-tarred Sen. David Vitter by 56.1% to 43.1% in the Nov. 21, 2015 runoff.

The first question was whether Edwards would be able to win outright in the Oct. 12 jungle primary.   There were three major candidates – Gov. Edwards, businessman Eddie Rispone, who co-founded and runs ISC, an industrial contracting company in Baton Rouge which provides electrical, instrumentation and controls, and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto).
  The three candidates participated in a debate hosted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting on Sept. 26 (+).  On Oct. 11, the eve of the primary, President Trump rallied in Lake Charles; Rispone and Abraham made brief appearances (+). 

Edwards finished with 47% to 27% for Rispone, who had spent millions in his primary bid, and 24% for Abrams.  Republicans took heart in the fact that their candidates obtained over 50% of the vote and, as an RGA memo noted, "Since Louisiana adopted the open primary system in 1975 NO governor has been re-elected in a run-off election." 

The five-week runoff campaign was quite nasty.  RGA Right Direction PAC hit Edwards with TV ads featuring clips of Trump accusing him of "ramming through the largest tax hike in your state’s history" and "taking money from open borders extremists." 
Another ad sought to tie Edwards to Hillary Clinton, and a closing digital ad painted him as being soft on violent offenders. Additionally, Politico reported that, "The RNC has spent $2 million and deployed 60 paid staffers to try to unseat Edwards."

President Trump rallied in Monroe on Nov. 6 (+) and in Bossier City on Nov. 14 (+).  Vice President Pence appeared with Rispone in Baton Rouge on Oct. 28, doing a retail stop and a fundraiser.


Edwards and Rispone engaged in one hour-long debate
hosted by Louisiana Public Broadcasting on Oct. 30 (+); WWL-TV decribed the event as a shouting match. 
 

Edwards carried 23 parishes to 41 for Rispone en route to winning by 40,212 votes or 2.66 percentage points.  All told, The Advocate reported a record amount, about $73 million, was spent on the race, including $46.9 million by the three candidates, more than $9 million by the RGA backed PAC and at least $8.8 million by the DGA backed Gumbo PAC.


Party Qualified
Voters  
% Voted Turnout
Democratic 1,258,780 42.3% 695,998 55.3%
Republican 924,495 31.1% 539,888 58.4%
Other 791,943 26.6% 282,832 35.7%
Total 2,975,218 100% 1,518,718 51.0%
503,630 votes, or about one third of total were cast in early voting (+)
Source: Louisiana Secretary of State

Campaign Managers:
John Bel Edwards:  Richard Carbo
(Jan. 2019) Deputy chief of staff (May 2017-Jan. 2019) and communications director (Jan. 2016-May 2017) to Gov. Edwards.  Communications director for End Citizens United PAC.  Communications director to U.S. Rep. John Barrow (GA), July 2011-July 2015, and served as his campaign manager.  Press secretary and earlier deputy press secretary to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Jan. 2009-June 2011.  Worked on multiple congressional races in Louisiana in 2007 and 2008.  Deputy press secretary to Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.  B.A. in communications from Louisiana State University, 2006.  Alexandria native.

Eddie Rispone:  Bryan Reed
(Jan. 2019)  Campaign manager on Knute Buehler for governor (OR).  Campaign manager on Todd Rokita's campaign for Republican nomination for U.S. Senate (IN), 2017-18. Campaign manager, briefly, on Jim Renacci's campaign for governor (OH), Mar.-Apr. 2017.  Campaign manager on Eric Greitens for governor (MO). Deputy national political director on Rand Paul for President, 2015-16.  Government affairs manager in the Office of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Jan.-Mar. 2015.  Field director on Citizens for Rauner, June 2013-Nov. 2014; field director on the Bruce Rauner Exploratory Committee.  Legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (IL), Nov. 2012-Jan. 2013.  Political director on Dold for Congress, March-Nov. 2012.  District representative (Dec. 2011-Feb. 2012) and constituent caseworker (Jan.-Dec. 2011) to U.S. Rep. Robert Dold (IL).  Field coordinator on Dold for Congress, July 2010-Jan. 2011.  Bachelor's degree in political science and government from University of Iowa, 2009.



See also:
Mark Ballard and Sam Karlin.  "At $73 million, Louisiana governor's race was most expensive in state history; see breakdown."  The Advocate, Dec. 31, 2019.

Melinda Delatte.  "Campaign strategists unpack Edwards' victory in Louisiana."  AP, Nov. 20, 2019.

Alex Isenstadt.  "RNC plunges into Louisiana gov's race amid signs of trouble."  Politico, Nov. 14, 2019.






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