John Bel Edwards campaign stop

Donna Edwards listens to her husband, Gov. John Bel Edwards, as he stumps for re-election during a campaign stop at 1516 Thalia Street in New Orleans, La. Monday, July 8, 2019.

Right direction? Louisiana has a budget surplus and fully funds TOPS tuition vouchers and pays for health care.

Wrong direction? Louisiana is raising taxes and losing jobs to other states.

Which narrative they embrace will determine how voters cast ballots in the state’s the Oct. 12 gubernatorial primary election.

The campaign for governor has kicked into high gear with the release of a first barrage of television ads, but the argument raised in those spots has already been joined in online ads and news releases for months.

Still, if the campaign is obviously heating up now that the Fourth of July holidays are over. While a slew of other offices are on the ballot in the fall, the governor’s race is one of the marquee contests in the country. Only a few other states have major elections in 2019.

Whether you can have a meaningful debate in 30-second spots might be doubtful, but the first broadcast ads of the new campaign include significant political contrasts.

The visuals say it all. Edwards’ ad touts the surplus and funding after former Gov. Bobby Jindal — an unpopular figure — left office with the state in a dramatic budget crisis.

A competing ad from the Republican Governors Association includes a more popular GOP figure, President Donald Trump, saying that he cut taxes and created jobs, in contrast to the RGA saying that Edwards raised taxes and lost jobs in the state.

One obvious difference in these themes was pointed out by Melinda Deslatte of The Associated Press, who noted that the RGA ad does not acknowledge that Republicans joined with Edwards and Democrats in the Legislature to pass the emergency tax increases that patched the holes left by Jindal.

That omission foretells some of the challenges facing voters this year as the charges and countercharges in the governor’s race, particularly, start to fly.

One important difference in the two ads is that in Louisiana the state must balance its budget. Trump’s tax cuts are attractive themes only if one stops to think that the U.S. government just borrows money to pay the bills, meaning a soaring federal budget deficit. Louisiana legislators, and the new governor, did not have that luxury in early 2016.

We believe that Edwards’ story is a pretty good one, as the state needed a rescue package and there wasn’t much in the way of good options other than what legislators voted for. After that, well, we’re still stuck with higher sales taxes and the Legislature failed to agree on long-term solutions.

Rehashing the problems of 2016 shouldn't get in the way of the candidates, incumbent or challengers, telling us what they will do going forward from January 2020, when the next term begins.

Our Views: Before you get our votes, tell us what is your plan