Louisiana is the last of three states to hold its gubernatorial election this year and the stakes are significant: This race could ultimately determine whether the lone Democrat in the Deep South is able to hang onto his seat.
The contest is also an increasingly close one. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards faces a serious challenge from Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who’s attempted to tie himself tightly with Trump during the campaign. In the week ahead of the election, polling had the two candidates nearly tied, and Cook Political Report has classified the race as a “toss-up.”
Edwards is a rare Democrat currently holding a statewide position in Louisiana, a role he first won after upsetting former US Sen. David Vitter in 2015. He’s since cast himself as a conservative Democrat, signing one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation, while highlighting his efforts to establish a budget surplus and expand Medicaid.
Rispone, meanwhile, has sought to nationalize the race and frame Edwards as just another liberal. As a successful businessman and longtime conservative donor, he’s argued that he’d be best positioned to advance Republican priorities in a state that went for Trump by 20 points in 2016.
Louisiana saw near-record levels of early voting in the weeks before Election Day; polls on the day of close at 8 pm CT. Live results, provided in partnership with Decision Desk, are below:
This particular race offers a litmus test for a couple of different things: It could indicate how much influence Trump’s endorsement still has in competitive races, and it could show whether or not Democrats are able to maintain a foothold in the Deep South. If Edwards wins reelection, it will be the second marquee race in a heavily Republican state where Trump’s candidate has faltered in recent weeks (Kentucky’s gubernatorial election was the first).
Given states’ upcoming redistricting plans following the 2020 Census and Republicans’ growing dominance of the Louisiana state legislature, Democratic gubernatorial control will be central to providing any kind of check on the GOP’s approaches to policy. Saturday’s election will determine if the party can keep it.