Candidates for governor reach out to voters on election eve

Last Day of the governor's race

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - On election eve, the major candidates for Louisiana governor were busy making their final appeals to voters.

Republican Eddie Rispone of Baton Rouge was along Veterans Memorial Boulevard in Metairie Friday morning waving signs with a group of supporters.

"Early in the morning waving at the different people,” Rispone said.

Inside a nearby business, he urged a group of supporters to contact others about getting to the polls on Saturday.

"Go and get on the phone, go on email, Facebook, text all their friends and just make sure that they show up to vote,” said Rispone.

Early afternoon, incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, gave sort of a closing argument, as he detailed what he considers to be his major first term accomplishments during a stop at a Lake Charles community college.

“I'd ask the people of Louisiana this, are we better off today than we were four years ago? And the answer to that is yes, by every available metric and relevant metric is yes,” said Edwards.

Congressman Ralph Abraham, the other top Republican in the race, stopped at a Lafayette TV station during the early morning hours.

"I've canvassed the state from corner to corner. It's not the geography, it's the policy. All Louisianians want the same thing, they want lower taxes, they want lower car insurance,” said Abraham.

Political analyst Mike Sherman weighed in on what he believes the candidates need to do in the final hours of the campaign.

"For the Republicans, who need turnout, turnout, turnout, having President Trump in Louisiana is the most important thing they could do to get their voters mobilized and to the polls,” said Sherman.

Sherman said for Edwards, it’s about more than just a big turnout by his core constituency.

"So the governor has a more nuanced strategy, of course, he needs his base to turn out…and he's got to find a way of getting those folks who, Republican voters who think he's doing a good job to cast a ballot for him,” Sherman stated.

All three of the candidates say they would work well with Trump on behalf of the state.

"We've already built those relationships, not only with our great president, vice president, but with cabinet members,” said Abraham.

However, Rispone said he did not personally ask Trump to endorse him over his fellow Republican, Abraham.

"No, I did not. I would not ask that of the president right now. I know he wants to help the Republican Party, the conservatives, [I want to] allow him to do that, you know, get our folks out,” said Rispone.

Trump and much of the GOP establishment are urging Republican voters to support either Abraham or Rispone.

Edwards said he has governed in a bipartisan fashion.

"I will always put the people of our state over politics and partisanship, now we have a Republican led legislature in Louisiana, so practically every major thing that I've done as governor was done on a bipartisan basis,” said Edwards.

Edwards also commented on Trump coming to Louisiana to help get a Republican in the office he now occupies.

"I want to welcome him to Louisiana as always, obviously, perhaps I wish this visit was under a little different circumstances, but over the past three years I've been to visit Pres. Trump nine times, working with him to find solutions on important issues facing the country and the state of Louisiana,” said Edwards.

Each of the candidates believes he is the best person to deal with the state’s economy.

"We should be number one in the south when it comes to jobs and opportunities, so our children and grandchildren can stay here and be proud to call Louisiana home,” said Rispone.

Edwards said during his time in office there have been over a hundred new economic development projects and the unemployment rate is lower.

“The number of employed people in Louisiana has grown and the number of unemployed people has shrunk, and lest you forget, in January 2016 when I became governor the unemployment rate was well over 6 percent and now it's down to 4.3 percent,” said Edwards.

Abraham said if elected, one of his priorities would be the oil and gas industry.

"We are going to incentivize that oil and gas industry to come back to Louisiana. They've left unfortunately because of some of the legacy lawsuits and some of our regulatory burden,” he said.

And Louisiana's governor's race is being watched by political pundits around the country because Edwards is the sole Democratic governor in the Deep South. Democrats want to hold on to the seat, while Republicans want it back.

Sherman said the political dynamics are different as Edwards seeks reelection.

"The Deep South has been a firewall for the Republicans and when we’ve seen Democrats win, Gov. Edwards against Sen. Vitter and then Doug Jones in Alabama, it’s been with a very unpopular Republican opponent with personal baggage,” said Sherman. “We don’t have that this election cycle, so I think one of the tests is, for Democrats, is there a path to victory in the Deep South?”

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