Despite a series of visits and late political rallies on behalf of the Republican running for Governor in the Bayou State, President Donald Trump's help for the GOP fell short in Louisiana on Saturday, as Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards narrowly won re-election to a second term, the second election setback for the President in two weeks.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting on Sunday morning, Edwards led Republican Eddie Rispone, a Baton Route area businessman, by 40,000 votes, with 51.3 percent of the vote.
The GOP defeat came just days after Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky conceded defeat in a close race from earlier this month, as Democrats overcame as series of campaign rallies held by the President, and won two of the three Governor's races in the South in 2019.
"And as for the President," Edwards said to cheering supporters, "God Bless his heart," using a well known Southern put down.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, upon winning reelection: "As for the president, God bless his heart." #lagov— Sam Karlin (@samkarlin) November 17, 2019
The President had come to Louisiana three times for rallies, fully embracing the battle to knock off Edwards.
While Democrats celebrated the second direct voter rebuke of Mr. Trump in two weeks, Republicans downplayed the results.
"He was going to own the losses either way," said GOP strategist Liam Donovan on Sunday morning. "Not sure any of it mattered all that much in the end in either direction."
In his campaign stops, and on Twitter, the President had cast the more conservative Edwards as a radical liberal, not worthy of the votes of the Bayou State.
"If you want to defend your values, your jobs, and your freedom, then you need to REPLACE Radical Liberal John Bel Edwards with a true Louisiana Patriot," Mr. Trump said on Twitter before the vote.
But while Eddie Rispone led Edwards for much of the night, the late arriving results from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and the suburban areas of those cities spelled doom for the President.
It was a familiar formula which has led to GOP losses in once-reliable GOP suburbs in cities all over the country: Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and more.
Same story, different state. *Massive* overperformance of baseline in Jefferson Parish (New Orleans suburbs) makes up for losses elsewhere. pic.twitter.com/CHtRdNjo4B— Sean T at RCP (@SeanTrende) November 17, 2019
The precinct where Trump had his final rally (Bossier Parish precinct 4-8C) actually flipped to Edwards. He lost it by 1 vote in 2015 and he carried it this time with 84 votes to Rispone's 67. #lagob #lalege— J. Miles Coleman (@JMilesColeman) November 17, 2019
"Hey are these Trump rallies definitely helping the Republicans?" asked Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) on Twitter as the returns rolled in.
Democrats will find out that answer for 2020, in 50 weeks.
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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com