Louisiana Governor Belon Bell Edwards (D) won a second term Saturday, defeating a wealthy Republican challenger in a state that has been increasingly reliant on the right in recent years.
With 96 percent of the area reporting, Edwards led businessman Eddie Ripson (R) by 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent margin. The Associated Press predicted Edwards would continue.
Edwards campaigned for his accomplishments during his first four years in office, when he expanded Medicare to cover low-income residents, broke the budget deadlock with the state legislature and signed legislation to increase teacher salaries.
But voters still tend to watch state-level racing through a different lens than they see in federal competitions. Edwards is one of the governors representing a state candidate for president of their party will not win – Democrats leading red states like Kansas and Montana and Republicans ruling Massachusetts, Maryland and Vermont.
Edwards, who came in with just over three points less than re-election victory in the first round of voting in October, has focused much of his campaign on the outcome of his constituency. Early voting results showed that Democratic voters, and especially black voters, made up a much larger percentage of the electorate in the run-off than in the first round. Opinion polls show Edwards garnering 90 percent of the North African vote, with Ripson winning about two-thirds of the white vote.
Both Democrats and Republicans entered the race with millions of dollars. During the runoff, the Democratic governors 'association spent about $ 2.7 million on television spots, while the Republican governors' association spent $ 2.2 million.
Ripson missed at least $ 12 million in his race, and the National Republican Committee raised $ 1 million late in the match to help boost the tournament on Ripson's behalf.
Saturday's election has been a year in which Democrats can demand political momentum. Where Republicans once hoped to win all three governors in this year's election, they ended up with just one in Mississippi and the incumbent president losing to Kentucky. Democrats also sought control of the Virginia House of Representatives and the state Senate, giving the party full control of state power there for the first time in a fourth century.
And, although his approval rating remains strong, Trump may also feel resentment: He campaigned with Ripson three times, including last week's rally this week in a Republican heavy district in the northwest corner of the state. This is the second time in as many weeks that Trump has appeared on behalf of a candidate in the state that has won him 20 points and could not pull that candidate first over the finish line.
Aware of Trump's position in the state, Edwards promoted his employment relationship with the president. After the White House stepped up job growth in Louisiana after President Trump took office, Edwards's campaign agreed.
"Louisiana's economy is moving in the right direction and growing stronger every day. But don't speak the word of the Edwards Government about it. The White House agrees, "Edwards campaign manager Richard Carbo said last week.