NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The race for governor attracted a second Republican candidate when conservative Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., announced that he will challenge democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.
"I've watched John Bel, I think he's put his weight behind all the wrong things. He has been relentless in his pursuit to raise our taxes. He is paying for things with these taxes that I don't necessarily agree with. He is chasing businesses and jobs out of the great state of Louisiana,” stated Rep. Abraham, R-Monroe.
"We're in a much stronger position as a state, the people in Louisiana know that, so I feel very good about the election cycle and I look forward to a good, and vigorous campaign,” said Gov. Edwards during a stop in Alexandria, an area represented by the congressman.
Recently GOP U.S. Sen. John Kennedy announced he would not challenge Edwards’ re-election bid.
"For over a year our attention was focused on whether Sen. Kennedy, Attorney General Landry, or both would run for governor, with those shocking announcements that neither of them would, we finally have a governor’s race with Congressman Abraham stepping into the fold,” said FOX 8 Political Analyst Mike Sherman.
Months ago, Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone announced he would challenge Edwards, and GOP state Sen. Sharon Hewitt said she is considering running.
Edwards said he likes his chances as he seeks another four years in office.
"We’ve turned a historic deficit into surplus. We’re funding higher education again, the GDP, the economy in the state of Louisiana is bigger than it’s ever been right now,” stated Edwards.
"Yeah, Louisiana is doing a little bit better, we could do so much better, but the fact that we're doing a little bit better is due to what we did in Congress with the Jobs Act and Tax Cut Bill,” Abraham said.
Sherman said given the fact that Louisiana is a “red” state he expects more republicans to enter the race.
"As the only democratic governor in the deep-red south we can expect national attention on Louisiana in this race, Republicans want this state back, Democrats want to keep a governor in the seat,” said Sherman.
Edwards suggested that Abraham is wishy-washy.
"If you just look at what he said recently about all the unfinished business in Congress that required his attention, obviously those things are still there, none of that has changed. You just have to address those questions why he would seek re-election, be re-elected and before he's even sworn into the next term decides that's not the job that he wants,” Edwards said.
"That's a good question for the governor. He ran 273 days while he was at the State Senate, so you know that's a question that I would throw back to him,” said Abraham.
Edwards, it should be noted served in the La. House of Representatives for eight years before he was elected governor.
"Unless you’re in Congressman Abraham’s district you probably don’t know much about him just yet, John Bel Edwards, our governor wasting no time trying to define his opponent, his first attack already came out, someone trying to hop from one elected position to the next,” Sherman said.
"We certainly will become more well-known, but we're well-known, you know, throughout the state and pockets that are important,” said Abraham.
Republican Party leaders have talked about the need to unite behind a single, strong candidate. Pundits said if that does not happen there will likely be a runoff.
"It's always a concern, and my concern is that we don't lose sight of the prize and that is to unseat John Bel Edwards,” said Abraham, who is confident he can win.
"I feel very good about the election because I know how much better off the state is today than it was three years ago,” said the governor.