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Gov. John Bel Edwards greets church goers after Mount Herman Baptist Church services at the Alario Center in Westwego Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. Edwards attended services at six West Bank churches on Sunday.

Election day is Saturday, and it looks like Gov. John Bel Edwards will get a second term. But he probably won’t win it all this weekend and should end up going head to head with one of his two Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham or businessman Eddie Rispone in the general. But even then, Edwards looks strong since he’s outpolling both Abraham and Rispone combined.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense as to why Edwards’ is doing so well. Democrats, like Edwards, have become mostly obsolete in the South. Republicans control the governor’s mansion in all of Louisiana’s neighboring states. But not only does the GOP control the executive branch in Missouri, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas, but Republicans also control both branches of the Legislature in those states. If you include Louisiana with the 11 states above, Edwards single-handedly represents the only place Democrats still have power at the very top. If Edwards falls, Democrats won’t control either the executive or legislative branches in 12 Southern states, including Louisiana.

Dan Fagan: Medicaid management should be issue in Louisiana governor's race

For Democrats, Louisiana’s governor’s race is about so much more than just an Edwards victory. It’s about holding on for dear life to a region where the party is clearly on life support.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone the Democratic Governors Association dumped $1.2 million into Gumbo Pac on Friday according to newly released state campaign finance reports. Gumbo Pac is a third-party group supporting Edwards. Pouring in that kind of cash a week before election day seems to indicate the Edwards camp is resigned to the fact, he will not get 50% plus 1 needed on Saturday to avoid a runoff.

Edwards understands how important his race is to his party. He recently sent out a fundraising request that read, “I’ll be blunt: If I don’t hit my final fundraising goal before my Election Day, I could lose this race. That’s how close this is. I refuse to lose Democrats our ONLY governorship in the deep south. Can I count on your $15?”

Even if Edwards were to win reelection, we should still see a huge power shift in the state. Two of the governor’s most important legislative allies have term-limited out. Republican state Sens. John Alario and Danny Martiny were instrumental in approving Edwards' tax increases. 

Edwards, with the help of just enough RINOs, has brought great change to Louisiana over the past four years. Under Edwards, government spending in Louisiana has increased by 25%, including some $5 billion in federal Medicaid dollars that will eventually impose a burden on the state budget. The governor has also presided over a $2 billion increase in spending of state-generated dollars. By any measure, government has grown under Edwards.

With his pen, Edwards single-handedly created 500,000 new government dependents by expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. The governor also used his pen to gut the state’s tax exemptions for manufacturing companies. And Edwards led the charge, along with his trial lawyer donors, in going to war with Louisiana’s oil industry. Edwards also worked with trial lawyers to block tort reform that would have lowered sky-high auto insurance rates. All of these anti-growth policies helped cause Louisiana to be the only state in the nation last year to lose jobs.

We’ll see a much more dramatic shift in political power in Louisiana if Edwards were to somehow lose. Democrats will, for the most part, be powerless, much like the party is in our neighboring states.

So, who will carry the torch for liberal causes if Edwards loses? Who will be the opposition party to resist an Abraham or Rispone administration backed by a Republican-controlled Legislature? Who will step in if Democrats have lost their only state officeholder with any juice? If Edwards loses, city halls in several Louisiana cities would still be controlled by Democrats with big megaphones, but GOP dominance of state policy would be a prevailing fact of life.

The liberal media would probably have to replace Democrats as the only relevant, de facto opposition party to Republicans in Louisiana if Edwards loses. If the polls are wrong and Edwards were to fall as the last Democrat standing in the South, figuratively speaking, the only remaining opposition will have to come from The Fourth Estate.

Email Dan Fagan at faganshow@gmail.com.