NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Less than a week before early voting begins for the October 12 election, incumbent Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards picked up a spate of endorsements from New Orleans officials.
Mayor Latoya Cantrell said Edwards has shown courage in tackling the state’s problems.
"Our governor, John Bel Edwards has demonstrated that he is courageous…The city of New Orleans will show up because we understand that our future is at stake,” said Cantrell.
Among the other leaders endorsing Edwards during the Tuesday (Sept. 24) press conference were Sheriff Marlin Gusman, members of the New Orleans City Council and state lawmakers representing the city in the Louisiana legislature.
In accepting their support, Edwards used a familiar theme of his reelection campaign. Edwards said the state is on a sound footing despite his having inherited a $2 billion deficit from his predecessor.
“We are doing so much better because of hard work, bipartisan work,” Edwards told the crowd.
Dillard University political analyst Robert Collins, PhD., said the endorsements are not a surprise.
"That was to be expected, so there's no surprise there. I think really the issue that we're going to be looking for as far as the Democratic elected officials, is what sort of resources are they going to put behind the governor to get out the vote in their cities, in their districts on election day,” he said.
Edwards faces two major GOP challengers, Congressman Ralph Abraham and wealthy Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone.
Luke Letlow, a senior adviser to the Abraham campaign, said they too are not shocked by the endorsements Edwards received in New Orleans, and added that it is surprising that those endorsements had not come sooner for the incumbent Democratic governor.
"Obviously, the mayor of New Orleans is a Democrat and the city of New Orleans is a largely Democratic city,” said Letlow.
He added that Abraham is not without support in the city, including from some people in the business community.
"I can tell you we've got numerous supporters in New Orleans that are supporting our campaign,” said Letlow.
Letlow said endorsements are important and Abraham has been able to put together hundreds of endorsements across the state.
Rispone’s communications director, Anthony Ramirez, issued the following statement in response to the endorsements Edwards received in New Orleans:
“Unsurprising. The liberal, pro-sanctuary city leaders of New Orleans endorsed the liberal, pro-sanctuary city candidate for governor.”
In response to Ramirez’s statement, Edwards campaign spokesman Eric Holl said, “President Trump's own Attorney General confirmed that there are no sanctuary cities in Louisiana. Mr. Rispone shouldn't lie to the people of Louisiana in an attempt to attack the city of New Orleans. That's not the kind of leadership that will move Louisiana forward."
New Orleans is a Democratic stronghold and political observers said Edwards will undoubtedly be looking to rack up a significant number of votes in the city on election day.
Collins thinks if Edwards is able to win the race during the October primary it will be close.
"We've seen recent polling data that the governor is within striking distance of getting 50 percent plus 1 and winning outright in the first primary, it' going to be very close and it's all going to depend on turnout,” said Collins.
He said winning a runoff could be more challenging for Edwards in a deep red state.
"It is dicier, simply because there's less turnout in general during runoff elections than during primary elections and if there's less turnout in general there's going to be a lower proportion of black turnout,” said Collins.
Edwards said he continues to work to get votes across the state.
“We're excited about the chances to win, I'm really excited about the vote I expect to get out of New Orleans but that's going to be the case in many places around the state and we're just looking forward to a good day on October the 12th and between now and then we're going to work really hard to make that happen,” he said.
The other candidates are confident in their campaigns, as well.
Early voting is from September 28 through October 5.