Governor's race evolves in a red state

Evolution of the governor's race in a red state

(WVUE) - On Saturday, voters will choose Louisiana's next governor in a race that has a Democrat as the frontrunner in a red state.

State Rep. John Bel Edwards and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter bested two other major candidates in late October to land in this weekend's runoff.

When Vitter announced in January 2014 that he would be a candidate for governor, as a powerful politician with fundraising muscle he was viewed as an instant frontrunner in a state with no Democrats occupying statewide office.

But on the eve of the runoff election, polls suggest Vitter lags behind Edwards.

"So who would have thought that we'd be 24 hours from a gubernatorial election and the Democrat is the frontrunner? David Vitter has to get Louisianians to return to historical voting trends, getting conservatives voting again for Republicans. Cleary there is a portion of the Republican base that he has offended," said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

From the start, Vitter worked to paint Edwards as a liberal who supported President Barack Obama at all costs. But Edwards, though a Democrat, insists he would put Louisiana interests first.

Political observers believe Edwards has benefitted from Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal's low approval numbers.

Still, Vitter was dogged during the campaign by a years-old prostitution scandal. And late in the campaign, Edwards took to the airwaves with a commercial accusing Vitter of putting prostitutes before soldiers.

"David Vitter answered a prostitute's call minutes after he skipped a vote honoring 28 soldiers who gave their lives in defense of our freedom. David Vitter chose prostitutes over patriots," the ad said.

In response, Vitter eventually addressed the scandal in his own commercial.

"Fifteen years ago, I failed my family but found forgiveness and love. I learned that our falls aren't what define us, but rather how we get up, accept responsibility and earn redemption," Vitter's ad states.

And in the final days of the campaign, the Paris terrorist attacks also became a part of the campaign.

"Now John Bel Edwards has pledged to work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana," a Vitter ad says.

"Following the attacks in Paris, I immediately called for an end to bringing Syrian refugees to Louisiana. It comes as no surprise that David Vitter is distorting the facts and trying to use this strategy to save his desperate campaign," says an Edwards ad in response.

Vitter's last effort to get voters to return to those historical trends is a Syrian refugee crisis.  He's trying to link John Bel Edwards to Obama. Unfortunately, both men have the same exact stated position on this issue - nuance is all that separates them," Sherman said.

To influence voters who will be heading to polling places Saturday, outside money has flowed into Louisiana by the millions in the governor's race.

"Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, we're in a new era of money in politics," Sherman said.

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