Governor Edwards Deserving of Second Term

Edwin Wang, Staff Writer

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On Nov. 21, 2016, John Bel Edwards was elected as Governor of Louisiana, defeating Republican Senator David Vitter and prevailing as a Democrat in a predominantly conservative state. Edwards campaigned on a platform to promote “a healthy dose of common sense and compassion for ordinary people,” seeking to reverse budget cuts enacted by his predecessor, Governor Bobby Jindal.

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Since taking office, Governor Edwards has emerged from his first term reasonably popular, maintaining a relatively strong approval rating of 50%. Edwards has governed as a centrist, seeking to reduce statewide incarceration, expand Medicaid and utilize the state sales tax to balance the budget.

Furthermore, unlike many fellow Democrats who initially refused to work with the incoming Trump administration, Edwards expressed an eagerness to meet with President Trump’s cabinet and collaborate with them on issues and projects relevant to Louisiana. Edwards’ open mind has resulted in over 375,000 Louisianans gaining access to healthcare coverage through Louisiana’s participation in the Affordable Care Act.

Rather than playing into the political gridlock and divisiveness that characterizes American politics, Edwards’ substantive efforts to serve his constituents have benefited them beyond new found access to healthcare. In his final news conference of 2018, Edwards announced the conclusion of enduring state budget deficits and touted Louisiana’s lowest uninsured rate ever. Though Louisiana’s sales tax remains at 4.45%, Edwards has efficiently used the revenue to patch the state’s depleted finances.

As Governor Edwards looks toward reelection, teacher pay raises, combating climate change, raising the minimum wage and increasing education funding sit atop the Governor’s priority list. Edwards has made a habit of tackling issues from a logical point of view, seeking to forge consensus from both aisles in the legislature.

Republicans seeking to reclaim the Governor’s office have much to learn from Governor Edwards’ example. Edwards has lead with a steady hand, striving to receive input from individuals of all political beliefs. Just as he promised to govern on the campaign stump, Edwards has tackled all of Louisiana’s issues with a common sense, reasonable approach. Additionally, Edwards has fulfilled his duty to serve his constituents by exhausting all means possible even if it means working with political opponents or shunning popular ideas.

Given his tenuous political position as a Democrat in an overwhelming Republican state, Governor Edwards has stuck to his principles without angering or belittling critics. He has honorably served hard working law enforcement, teachers and military personnel who depend on an effective executive to improve their quality of life. As Governor Edwards faces a likely stiff reelection battle this fall, voters ought to look to his record of accomplishment, integrity and collaboration when selecting their next Governor.