Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ energy opponents now friends, especially when it comes to fundraising _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS --Gov. John Bel Edwards delivers the keynote address at the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association (LMOGA) annual meeting.

Give Gov. John Bel Edwards this much: The man can count.

Not that it’s so hard to count to one.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidates hoping to emulate the governor’s stunning victory last fall in a state that hadn’t elected a party member to statewide office since 2008 should focus on rallying behind a single candidate against the large Republican field, Edwards told party leaders Saturday.

That was his main rationale for bestowing an early endorsement on Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell of Bossier Parish, despite the presence of two other announced Democrats in the race.

“It’s not just theory or conjecture that we can win races in Louisiana, but we have to work together,” Edwards said. “The best shot for us to be successful is to have one candidate.”

Edwards’ own victory last fall is Exhibit A. As the only Democrat in the four-candidate open primary, he had a strong shot at landing one of two runoff spots.

And indeed, Edwards finished first in the primary, while three Republicans divvied up the rest of the vote. That put him in the right place at the right time to benefit from Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s epic collapse.

That’s going to be a hard situation to replicate. A win for Campbell — or fellow Democrats Caroline Fayard or Josh Pellerin, for that matter — would require that a significant portion of Republican-leaning voters abandon their usual preferences, in an election in which more ideologically loaded national issues will inevitably dominate. It would also require the Democrat to run the sort of pitch-perfect campaign that Edwards mounted, an achievement in itself. And for the Republican, whoever it winds up being, to simply turn off as many voters off as Vitter did.

But Edwards is right, as far as he went. The math does matter. Unfortunately for Campbell, though, there’s a whole lot more to the equation.

‘Grace notes’ is a daily feature by Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace. To read more of her content, including her full columns, click here.