The Louisiana people voted to resolve their disputed governor's race once every Saturday and chose between incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards and Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in a rounding election that has drawn President Trump's attention.
Trump is eager to see Rispone regain the leadership of the GOP, especially after the Kentucky Republican government. Matt Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear 11 days ago. The president posted a powerful plug for Rispone on Twitter shortly after the polls opened, reminding locals to "Go out and VOTE if @EddieRispone should be your next Gov!" In another tweet, Trump gave a link to polling stations and said: "LOUISIANA, VOTE @EddieRispone TODAY! He will be a great governor!"
Rispone was not among the top candidates that GOP leaders hoped would challenge Edwards. The 70-year-old owner of a Baton Rouge industrial company ran for admission and had some name recognition, putting his entire candidacy to Trump and presenting himself in ads focused on support for the president.
A FiveThirtyEight average of the latest surveys shows that Edwards has an average lead of about two percent. Should Rispone pull away from the victory, Republicans would surely win the win as evidence of Trump's traction in the red state, which he last visited on Thursday.
"This Saturday, history's eyes are on the great people of Louisiana," Trump told rallygoers Thursday in Bossier City. "It's close. You have to vote on Saturday. You will have a great Republican governor."
"I've known Eddie for a long time," Trump added to Rispone. "He was a very successful guy, made a lot of money."
"We want Louisiana to be No. 1 in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunities. We have to do something different," Rispone said this week. "We can do for Louisiana what President Trump has done for the nation." says he is like Trump and calls himself a "conservative outsider" whose business skills help solve Louisiana's problems. He has promised tax cuts, not saying where he would cut spending, and he promised a constitutional convention, without specifying what he wanted
Meanwhile, Democrats are keen to show that they can win conservative states with the right candidates and Edwards is truly a conservative Democrat. Edwards, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, opposes gun restrictions and speaks favorably on Trump.
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"They talk about me being some kind of a radical liberal. "One in Louisiana knows better than that. I'm totally in the middle of the political spectrum," Edwards told The Associated Press. "It hasn't changed, and that's how we've ruled."
The Democrat highlighted his bipartisan work with the majority GOP legislature to end years of budget crises, pass the first K-12 state teacher raise in a decade, and review criminal law laws. He also blamed Rispone for his support of unpopular former Bobby Jindal, saying Rispone would return Louisiana to policies that increased the state's deficit. Edwards said Rispone's proposal to freeze enrollment in the state's Medicaid expansion program would force hundreds of thousands of health coverage.
Fox News & Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.