- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is still holding his own in a reelection matchup against two chief GOP challengers, according to a new poll Tuesday that has conservatives alarmed.

The survey, commissioned by The Hayride, the Pelican State’s top conservative website, showed Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone struggling for name recognition, while Mr. Edwards has a 57% approval rating.

He is leading among Democrats and independents, and is even winning more than a quarter of Republican voters’ support, the poll found.

“It’s incredible and I really don’t understand it, but every poll we’ve seen has shown these Republican voters who are fine with John Bel Edwards,” The Hayride’s proprietor, Scott McKay, told the Washington Times.

The Edwards campaign downplayed the source of the poll, but reiterated its belief the governor is in a strong position.

“We’ve been saying all along that we expect this election to be a tough fight but we like where we are,” said Eric Holl, a campaign spokesman.

For the most part, Mr. McKay attributes the governor’s current standing to the favorable press Mr. Edwards receives at home, and a belief many voters don’t know much about the governor’s positions.

As an example, he cited Mr. Edwards’ appearance on a fringe monthly radio show last week where he was asked about President Trump’s recent tweets suggesting some liberal minority Democratic congresswomen “go back.”

Mr. Edwards first said the president’s comments they were “out of bounds,” but tried to strike a moderate tone, bemoaning the deteriorating state of civil discourse in America.

His interlocutor on the Louisiana Radio Network pressed the issue, asking if Mr. Edwards took issue with the phrase “go back” that Mr. Trump employed on Twitter.

“You can compare that statement with statements that were made during the Civil Rights movement that were directed at people who sat at lunch counters they weren’t supposed to sit at, or wanted to ride the bus wherever they wanted to sit, or to register to vote,” Mr. Edwards said.

Louisiana conservatives have been startled at the lack of interest locally in the governor’s remarks.

“When we heard Edwards compare the president to lunch-counter segregationists of yore we figured it was the end of his support among conservative and moderate white voters in the state, and before it’s all said and done it will be,” Mr. McKay said.

The Rispone campaign did not respond to questions about the latest poll, and privately Mr. Abraham’s team questioned its methodology.

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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