Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards won reelection Saturday night after narrowly defeating Republican challenger Eddie Rispone in the gubernatorial runoff election.
Edwards received 51.34% of the vote with 774,469 votes, while Rispone received 48.66% of the vote with 734,128 votes, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State.
In the primary election on Oct. 12, Edwards received 46.59% of the vote, and Rispone 27.42%. Neither candidate secured 50% of the vote, sending both candidates to the runoff election. U.S. Rep. Republican Ralph Abraham was also running at the time and received 23.61% of the vote.
In his acceptance speech, Edwards thanked his family, campaign manager, volunteers and campaign staff, saying his campaign staff was the smallest that has ever worked in Louisiana.
“My pledge to you tonight remains the same as it has been for months. I will always be honest with you, I will never embarrass you and I will get up every day fighting to put the great people of the great state of Louisiana first,” Edwards said in his acceptance speech.
Edwards stressed the importance of working together to put Louisiana first, regardless of race or party. He said he will work hard for all Louisiana residents, whether they voted for him or not.
President Donald Trump visited Louisiana three times during the election cycle and endorsed Rispone. Edwards mentioned Trump once in his acceptance speech.
“And as for the president, bless his heart,” Edwards said.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. However, last week Kentucky elected Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. But unlike many of his Democratic colleagues, Edwards opposes most gun restrictions and abortion.
One of Edwards’ main priorities for his second term is education. Under former Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana led the nation in budget cuts to higher education. Edwards’ budget compromise in 2018 prevented a 30% cut to higher education, according to his website.
“Gov. Edwards believes that our higher education institutions are key drivers of economic development,” Edwards’ campaign website says.
Political science senior Lexie Martin said that Edwards’ prevention of TOPS budget cuts allowed her to relax. Martin said she is excited to see what Edwards will bring to the University with another four years as governor.
“He represents growth and hope for Louisiana and all of its people,” Martin said. “More than likely, I think he’ll keep his focus on educational investment very close to the top of his priority list.”
Edwards’ other priorities listed on his website include healthcare, criminal justice reform and coastal restoration.