Don't underestimate how much college and pro football in Louisiana can impact what it's like to be the state's governor. That's what John Bel Edwards, the 53-year-old incumbent who won reelection over Republican challenger Eddie Rispone on Saturday, told The New York Times.
“It is an easier state to govern when the Saints and LSU are winning,” Edwards said. “People are just in a better mood.”
That better mood is thanks to LSU and the Saints' combined record of 17-2. The Tigers ascended to the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings after defeating Alabama for the first time since 2011 last weekend. And the New Orleans Saints lead the NFC South and are making a push to be the NFC's No. 1 overall seed.
Since becoming governor, Edwards has forged relationships with LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Saints owner Gayle Benson.
Edwards, who hosted the LSU's freshmen at the Governor's mansion in June, struck up a friendship with Orgeron shortly after the head coach was hired full-time after the 2016 season and has since been near the team on several occasions.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards claimed a second term Saturday, winning a stunning victory in a heavily Republican state and beating back rep…
Orgeron has introduced Edwards at multiple functions, including at an April fundraiser for Edwards' re-election campaign. Edwards also called in to Orgeron's weekly radio show last week to congratulate the Tigers on their win at Alabama, and he appeared at the airport to greet the team after it returned from home from that historic win.
When Orgeron received a two-year contract extension and a raise to $4 million in March, Edwards said on his monthly radio call-in show that LSU was getting the third-year head coach at "a bargain."
Edwards regularly attends Saints home games too, sitting in Benson's suite.
About two weeks before the primary election, Benson made a $50,000 donation to a Super PAC dedicated to reelecting Edwards.
Greg Bensel, a spokesman for the Saints, said at the time that "Gov. John Bel Edwards is a candidate that Mr. and Mrs. Benson have had a close relationship with for many years, sharing a strong belief in service to country and their faith."
Shortly after defeating challenger Eddie Rispone, Governor John Bel Edwards thanked the state of Louisiana.
Earlier this summer, Edwards attended a Saints training camp practice and talked up a deal in the works to keep the Saints in New Orleans through 2035 and do a $450 million renovation of Mercedes-Benz Superdome, a project that would be the most expensive in the stadium’s 44-year history.
During the visit, he also tossed a football with Saints quarterback Drew Brees, and the interaction was made into a digital campaign ad by American Bridge, another Super PAC.