U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, left, presents the Distinguished Service Cross to Richard Lafleur and his wife Carrol in commemoration of Richard's uncle Lt. Joseph Lafleur, an Army chaplain who served during WWII, Tuesday, October 17, 2017, at St. Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas, La.

For decades, candidates from north Louisiana dominated in races for the Governor’s Mansion, but since Edwin W. Edwards broke the string, and with the single exception of Buddy Roemer in a splintered field in 1987, a candidate north of the Interstate 10/12 line has not been successful.

That reflected population shifts that dramatically reduced the northern parishes’ share of the total vote. With Republican domination of most offices, it is often casually assumed that a candidate like Ralph Abraham will have a solid base of northern parishes for his just-announced race for governor.

Alas for the congressman from rural Alto in the heart of farm and timber country, demographics aren’t that friendly for a statewide race.

While Abraham is popular in his sprawling U.S. House district, almost 35 percent of his constituents are black Democrats, not Republicans. The fact is that, with rare exceptions, they will not be backing the home boy in a general election against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Of course, Abraham can more than make up the difference if he strikes a chord with Republican whites elsewhere, so speaking of the race in regional terms may be misleading.

Email Lanny Keller at