John Bel Edwards campaign stop

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards campaign bus turns left onto Prytania St. after making a stop at 1516 Thalia Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, July 8, 2019.

A day after Gov. John Bel Edwards' campaign released the first statewide TV ad of the governor's race, the Republican Governors Association launched its own TV ad attacking Edwards on taxes and the economy. 

The RGA's Right Direction PAC will run on TV statewide starting Tuesday with an ad buy in the mid-six figures for the next several weeks. 

Titled "Left behind," the spot contrasts Edwards with President Donald Trump, casting the Democratic governor as "the opposite of Trump" on taxes and jobs. It highlights the state's poor rankings in economic measures and suggests the state is being "left behind" by a booming American economy. 

"Higher taxes. Lost jobs. That's John Bel Edwards," the ad says. 

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The TV ads represent the first wave of what is expected to be millions spent on this year's governors race. Edwards launched a bus tour on Saturday and is traveling throughout the state this week, as candidates begin ramping up their campaign activities. 

Edwards, after a stump speech in Lake Charles Tuesday, fired back at the RGA, defending his approach to taxes and the budget as a bipartisan, "balanced" approach and arguing the Louisiana economy is performing better than it was four years ago. 

"The state of Louisiana is much much better off today than we were four years ago, the last time we had a Republican governor," Edwards said. "I know that hurts the feelings of the Republican Governors Association but it is a fact.”

The new RGA ad, and Edwards' own spot released Monday, lay out the contours of the race as the Oct. 12 election nears. While Edwards will highlight the state's new budget stability that allowed for a teacher pay raise and other investments, Republicans will attack the tax hikes he pushed and the state's poor rankings on national lists. 

If no candidate wins more than 50% in the primary, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff.

Edwards' ad, titled "Surplus," compared his record with another Republican official, former Gov. Bobby Jindal. It contrasted the budget shortfalls the state faced when he took office in 2016, which threatened services like higher education and health care, with the state's newfound surplus.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the GOP-led Legislature agreed with Edwards to hike the state sales tax as part of a budget deal that shored up the state's finances last year. As a result, the state had more money to spend this year and the governor and lawmakers gave teachers a pay raise, among other things, which Edwards has campaigned on. 


Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com