The group Rebuild Louisiana began airing a 30-second TV ad Monday praising Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for “work[ing] with Republicans and Democrats to pass Louisiana’s first teacher pay raise in a decade.” On June 13, the group released a 1-minute ad featuring Edwards speaking in support of a revenue plan that fell six votes short of passing the legislature earlier this month.
Rebuild Louisiana “is registered as a 501(c)4 group with the IRS, meaning it is a nonprofit that can publicize a candidate’s achievements without expressly asking the public to vote for the candidate,” The Advocate reported, saying the group “is allowed to coordinate its activities with the Edwards re-election campaign.”
Louisiana’s top-two primary election takes place October 12, 2019. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, a general election will take place November 16. The filing deadline is August 8. So far, Edwards has two challengers: U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham (R) and businessman Eddie Rispone (R). The three candidates have all released digital campaign ads, and the Republican Governors Association has released digital ads opposing Edwards.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor among the southernmost states, and he is the only Democrat holding statewide office in Louisiana. Both the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Governors Association (RGA) have said their parties are in a favorable position to win the gubernatorial election.
DGA spokesman Jared Leopold said, “Gov. Edwards is in a strong position for re-election and is one of the most popular governors in America for a reason: He’s working across party lines to get things done for Louisianans.” The DGA has pointed to Edwards’ role in expanding Medicaid in the state and referred to the state’s economic performance as accomplishments of Edwards’ tenure.
The RGA has called Louisiana a “top pick-up opportunity for Republicans” in 2019. “With the state’s solid red hue combined with President Trump’s 20-point victory in 2016, Gov. Edwards will certainly face a competitive race no matter who Republicans decide to nominate,” said Jon Thompson, RGA spokesperson. The Louisiana Republican Party has criticized Edwards by saying that economic growth has been slow during his tenure while taxes have increased.