Updated 9:58 a.m., Oct. 26 |Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter will face John Bel Edwards, a Democratic state legislator, in a runoff to become Louisiana’s next governor.
Edwards finished first with 40 percent of the vote to Vitter’s 23 percent. Most of the rest of the vote went to the other two Republicans in the race: Scott Angelle, a member of the state’s utility regulating commission got 19 percent of the vote, and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne finished with 15 percent. The two will face off in a Nov. 21 runoff to succeed Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is term-limited.
Elisabeth Pearson, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, congratulated Edwards on his first-place finish, saying the results showed Louisiana voters “don’t trust David Vitter to be their governor.”
“The primary results were a clear repudiation of David Vitter’s tired Washington politics,” she said in a statement. “Louisiana voters know that they just can’t trust David Vitter. That’s why more than 70 percent of them rejected his campaign today.”
Republican Governors Association Communications Director Jon Thompson, in his congratulatory statement for Vitter, tried to tie Edwards to President Barack Obama.
“Instead of standing up for Louisiana, John Bel Edwards has repeatedly supported Obama and championed his liberal agenda, even writing the bill that would expand Obamacare in the state,” Thompson said. “Louisianans can’t afford four more years of Obama’s failed policies and that’s exactly what they would get with an Obama liberal like John Bel Edwards in charge.”
Although Louisiana has become more red each year, the campaign took a toll on Vitter’s popularity, as the powerful Republican who was seen by his rivals as the one to beat withstood serious blows, including some involving his 2007 prostitution scandal, as recently as a debate on Wednesday.
When the head-to-head matchup was first polled in February 2014 , Vitter led Edwards, 50 percent to 32 percent.
Louisiana Republicans — including Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., Rep. John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy — have already begun filling out applications to run for Vitter’s seat in the Senate in the event that he is successful next month. If he wins, Vitter would be able to appoint his replacement — potentially giving the gift of incumbency to a successor.
Even before the Republican versus Democrat direct match up, the Washington, D.C.-based RGA had already began attacking Edwards as an “Obama liberal .” But, with Vitter damaged from the initial contest, national Democrats are likely to now get involved, too.
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