(Reuters) – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a conservative Democrat seeking a second term, will face a Republican businessman in a run-off vote on Nov. 16 after failing to secure outright victory in an election on Saturday.
FILE PHOTO: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards speaks during a memorial service for three slain Baton Rouge police officers at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
Edwards received 47% of the votes cast in the six-candidate primary, according to results from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office. He had needed 50% to win a second term outright.
Republican Eddie Rispone, making his first run for political office, finished second with 27% of the vote.
U.S. President Donald Trump, a Republican, led a rally with thousands of cheering supporters on Friday night in Lake Charles in the hope of ousting the only Democratic governor of a Deep South state.
After Saturday’s results, Trump took credit for a run-off being required.
“The Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, has done a poor job. NOW HE IS IN A RUNOFF WITH A GREAT REPUBLICAN … 66% DOWN TO 47% after I explained what a bad job the Governor was doing,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
In remarks to his supporters, Rispone, a little-known construction entrepreneur, said to cheear that the president called to congratulate him on making a run-off necessary.
“President Donald Trump is going to help us,” Rispone said.
Edwards has criticized what he called efforts to nationalize the state race but also promised to work closely with Trump should he win a second term.
Edwards told his supporters at a post-election gathering that voters should be wary of “Washington-style partisan politics.”
“We are not going back. That is exactly what Eddie Rispone would have us do,” Edwards said. Referring to the record of the state’s previous Republican governor, he said: “He (Rispone) wants to put us right back on the path that led us straight into the ditch.”
Edwards holds more socially conservative views than many in his party, which he touts to voters as making him able to work well with people from different political groups, running ads that include praise for his tenure from Republican state senators and business leaders.
An observant Roman Catholic, he opposes abortion, and this year signed a law banning the procedure after 15 weeks.
Edwards was a U.S. Army captain and a lawyer before being elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2008. He became governor after winning 56 percent of the vote against David Vitter, a Republican, in 2015.
Reporting by Keith Coffman, Alexandra Alper and Jonathan Allen, Editing by Timothy Heritage