Edwin Edwards endorsed for Congress by La. Democratic Party _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Sixth Congressional District candidate and former La. Gov. Edwin Edwards

The Louisiana Democratic Party has endorsed former Gov. Edwin Edwards in the 6th Congressional District race.

Edwards, who served nearly nine years in federal prison on charges that stemmed from a scheme involving riverboat casino licenses, is widely seen as the Democrats’ best hope in the crowded race for the seat currently held by Republican Bill Cassidy. Cassidy is running for U.S. Senate.

Republicans seeking the 6th District seat in the Nov. 4 election are state Sen. Dan Claitor, former Jindal adviser Garret Graves, business owner Paul Dietzel II, state Rep. Lenar Whitney, tax lawyer Cassie Felder, business owner Craig McCulloch, LSU doctorate student Norm Clark, educator Charles “Trey” Thomas, and Robert Bell, a retired U.S. Navy Reserve officer and Tea Party of Louisiana columnist who calls himself Captain Bob.

Democrats Peter Williams, of Lettsworth, and Richard Dean Lieberman, a LaPlace real estate broker, also are seeking the seat, as is Libertarian Rufus Craig. A runoff, if needed, will be Dec. 6.

LaPolitics.com reported this summer that some in the state Democratic Party were keeping Edwards at arm’s length and waiting to see who else would jump into the race.

The endorsement announcement this week notes that the state party’s governing body voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of endorsing Edwards.

“I am pleased to have this and other endorsements from groups that are helping people who have an interest in promoting a better life for our nation and the district,” Edwards said in a statement. “I appreciate the vote of everyone because I am going to serve everyone.”

Louisiana Democratic Party Vice Chairman Shane Riddle said Democrats see a path to victory amid the crowded Republican slate.

“The 6th Congressional District is more challenging terrain for Democratic candidates since it was redrawn in 2011,” Riddle said. “I am impressed with the team and the energy coming from Team Edwards — and I have often been told to never count out Edwin Edwards.”

Edwards, 87, was released from federal prison in 2011.

He served four terms as governor and seven years in Congress.

“Just a quick look at their candidates shows how out of touch Louisiana Democrats are,” Louisiana Republican Party Executive Director Jason Doré said in response to the endorsement. “The Louisiana (Democratic Party) is increasingly out of touch with our state’s mainstream, and today’s endorsement only reinforces the sad state of their party.”