The Pelican State has two choices in the Louisiana governor election 2019: re-elect or pick someone new.
Only three governorships come up in the 2019 off-year elections, and incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) is the sole Democrat defending a seat. Louisiana is a red state on the federal level, but it hasn’t been that way for long, and, as if we need to mention it, they are not beyond electing Democrats to statewide office. No Democratic governor has been re-elected since Edwin Edwards, though that fact in itself is a bit misleading as before Mike Foster, the state had very few Republican governors, anyway.
Yet, these are not the days of Huey Long and Democratic dominance, or even those of John Breaux and Mary Landrieu. Louisiana is a conservative Southern state, and many of those conservative Democrats have since switched parties. We can still name you at least one moderate Democrat in Louisiana: John Bel Edwards.
Will Edwards win re-election or will Republicans pick up another governorship in the South?
For more on the state legislature elections also occurring in Louisiana in 2019, see our special report.
Louisiana Governor Election 2019 Candidates
Declared candidates list updated July 27, 2019
|John Bel Edwards* (Governor of Louisiana)|
|Ralph Abraham (US Representative, 5th District)|
|Eddie Rispone (Contractor)|
|Gary Landrieu (Contractor)|
Louisiana Governor Election 2019: Early Look
Louisiana Governor Election Day 2019
Jungle Primary: October 12, 2019
Runoff: November 16, 2019
Louisiana Governor Election 2019 Prediction
Electionarium predicts a Democratic hold (weak lean) as of July 27, 2019.
Louisiana Governor Election 2019 Analysis, January 20, 2019
There has been no opinion polling yet in 2019. The last polls available were candidate-sponsored surveys, each showing that (1) this race is heading for a runoff and (2) Edwards can be re-elected, but it’s not going to be easy. (Links: The Hayride, SurveyUSA)
Edwards breathed a sigh of relief when US Senator John Kennedy announced in December that he would not run for governor. (Link: Washington Post) Kennedy would have been the best Republican challenger he could have drawn, but he’s got 5th District congressman Ralph Abraham instead. Abraham’s district takes in the northeastern part of the state, then swinging down into the Florida parishes and the hometown of Britney Spears, Kentwood.
Abraham lacks the name recognition of Edwards, but this state has entertained bids that were more of a longshot than his.
Louisiana Governor Election 2019 Primary Results, October 12
Incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) was the clear first-placer of the primary election, taking over 46 percent of the vote. This was not, however, a victory. Edwards and Eddie Rispone (R) got out of the semifinals and into the main event in mid-November. Neither man got a simple majority of the vote, requiring a runoff (which Louisiana calls the general election).
Edwards came in first in many of the state’s parishes with the Republican vote split. November will be a different story, but Edwards may still be considered the favorite.
When we first started tracking this race in the start of 2019, Ralph Abraham was Edwards’ main challenger. He placed third on primary night, behind Edwards and Eddie Rispone. The latter, Rispone, was an afterthought in January, polling in the single digits. Then, Rispone caught momentum, and before he knew it, Abraham was in a real race for second.
Louisiana Governor Election 2019 General Election (Runoff) Results, November 16
John Bel Edwards (D) was re-elected governor of Louisiana by defeating Eddie Rispone (R) by a 51-49% margin. Rispone improved upon the Republican vote total from last time, when Edwards beat an unpopular senator with an unpopular outgoing Republican governor. However, both candidates increased vote totals with hundreds of thousands more Louisianans voting in 2019.
Most of Louisiana’s parishes, as one might expect, were red this time, while the higher-population areas went for Edwards, delivering him victory in a close race.
Edwards did not flip any parishes that he did not win last time, while Rispone flipped 16 parishes that Edwards won in his 2015 blowout.
Final Results Analysis
There is talk out there today of those trying to nationalize this Louisiana governor result in much the same way that it happened in Kentucky with Andy Beshear’s win. We cannot prevent that, and while there may be a shade of truth, it is not the whole story. First and foremost, Donald Trump will not lose Louisiana in 2020. Edwards being in office did not prevent him from doing so in 2016. Further, Edwards has been in office since Barack Obama was president, predating Trump. A minor footnote is that the last sitting Louisiana governor to lose was Buddy Roemer in 1991.
This election was not strictly about Donald Trump, though he did interject himself into the campaign. Our bet is that there were Edwards voters on Saturday who will vote for Trump in November 2020. Yet, the president is going to get tagged with this “L” because perception becomes reality, and the perception is that this is bad news for him. After all, he campaigned for Eddie Rispone several times. We are not, nor would we, make the case that this is good for him, but put Trump aside and consider the following: John Bel Edwards is a governor to the right of his party, one of the only brands of Democrats that can compete in a state like Louisiana. His approval numbers were respectable and he had the benefit of incumbency. Had he been a fierce liberal, Edwards would never have been elected in the first place, so he must have appealed in some bipartisan way.
Louisiana’s days as a solid blue state are finished, but Edwards deserves a lot of personal credit for his victory in spite of the lean of the state. If this and Kentucky do demonstrate anything about the president, it is that his endorsement in a red state is not by itself enough.