Edwards fires back at Kennedy call to step down

Edwards fires back at Kennedy call to step down
FOX 8 Photo

AMITE, LA (WVUE) - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday returned to familiar territory as he lashed out against a call to step down.

That call came from the man who might be a leading challenger in next year's governor's race.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-LA, calls for Edwards to step aside due to the state's ongoing failure to address its budget problem. Edwards returned to his hometown to fire back.

"I have not talked to the governor's office...he doesn't  answer my letters," said Kennedy.

"I think it's the height of silly season, that's absurd," said Edwards.

"This one seems simple to me. Election season is starting early in Louisiana," said FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman.

The  criticism comes from Louisiana's junior senator, who is considered a frontrunner to challenge Edwards next year.

"Watching the approval ratings, voters have not yet blamed Gov. Edwards for the stalemate, but we will watching those numbers closely," said Sherman.

It's been a tumultuous two-and-a-half years in office for a governor who had to deal with a massive deficit when he came in.

"The Legislature has been through this process twice, now in regular and special. And each time they passed a budget with $507 million in unfunded priorities below the line," said Edwards.

Edwards recently called lawmakers into their fourth session this year, beginning Monday, to deal with the chronic deficit. Lawmakers say they are frustrated, but are willing to continue working for a solution.

"Look, he's the elected governor for the state of Louisiana. I will do what I can. I don't want to get in the middle of that infighting," said Rep. Nicholas Muscarello Jr., R-Hammond.

In calling for Edwards to step aside, Kennedy suggested that the lieutenant governor should take over.

"I'm flattered that the senator thinks that highly of me. I have the job I want as lieutenant governor, and I plan to run for re-election," said Billy Nungesser.

The governor accuses Kennedy of divisive politics.

"Instead of him bringing Louisiana values to Washington, he's bringing Washington values and discord back to Louisiana. He hasn't passed a single bill that he authored. He ought to do his job," said Edwards.

The war of words is likely to continue until next year's elections, a race that could include Attorney General Jeff Landry.

"It's a red state, we have broken trends. When he's up for re-election, Landry, Nungesser and Kennedy may seize that opportunity," said Sherman.

It could be a long campaign.

Kennedy again today deferred making a commitment to run for governor.

Lawmakers will be back at it again in special session Monday to try to close the budget deficit and save the food stamp program, healthcare and education from devastating cuts.

Copyright 2018 WVUE. All rights reserved.