Louisiana’s largest labor organization has endorsed Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards in this year’s governor’s race — giving the latest signal that the candidate lineup is unlikely to change much between now and Election Day.
Edwards, of Amite, is the leading Democrat in the race, so far, but some have speculated that other, higher-profile Democrats could make a late entry. Republicans running for governor include U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
AFL-CIO, which typically endorses Democratic candidates, didn’t hesitate over the endorsement Tuesday and quickly voted to back Edwards’ campaign, even though candidates legally have several months to decide to run.
“To us, the record is clear,” said Louisiana AFL-CIO President Louis Reine. “The choice is clear for the people of the state of Louisiana.”
Just last month, national Democrats were still talking up the possibility of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, also a Democrat, entering the gubernatorial race.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, the 2015 Democratic Governors Association chairman, told the National Journal he believed Landrieu was still “carefully considering” a run for governor.
LaPolitics.com reported this week that there has been an underground recruitment effort to try to draw more Democrats into the field. According to that report, Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, state Sen. Rick Gallot, of Ruston, and former Opelousas Mayor and former state Sen. Don Cravins Sr. have each been approached, though none appears to be entering the race. Holden is running for lieutenant governor.
Edwards, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, addressed the crowd of about 150 AFL-CIO members at the group’s convention in Baton Rouge following the endorsement announcement.
His speech largely took aim at Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who cannot seek re-election this year because of term limits and is considering a run for president.
“People see it, people feel it, and they fear staying on this same road,” Edwards told the crowd.
He took jabs at his Republican opponents by tying them to Jindal, whose approval rating is below 50 percent in Louisiana, based on recent polls.
Edwards called Vitter “Jindal on steroids,” Dardenne “Jindal-lite” and Angelle “Jindal reincarnate.”
The election will be held Oct. 24, with a Nov. 21 runoff, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.
Most political observers believe that it will be difficult for any candidate to muster that much of the vote. Because of Louisiana’s jungle primary system, the runoff could be between a Republican and a Democrat or two Republicans.