Eddie Rispone and John Bel Edwards STOCK (copy)

Eddie Rispone (left) and John Bel Edwards (right)

It is Election Day in Louisiana, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a race for governor that’s this close.

While that margin-of-error contest between Gov. John Bel Edwards and Eddie Rispone is the marquee matchup, there are a number of other runoffs in Baton Rouge and Acadiana that voters should also focus on.

Key legislative races in Baton Rouge and Ascension will be settled, including the Senate District 16 election that caused a bit of stir with a tie for second place, until an official count put Franklin Foil into the runoff with front-runner Beverly Brooks Thompson.

In Lafayette, the race for mayor-president is also hotly contested and includes a rarity these days, a candidate who decided to run affiliated with neither of the major parties, Carlee Alm-LaBar. She faces Josh Guillory, a Republican, in the runoff.

In the greater Baton Rouge area, the last of eight elected seats on the state education board is also in a runoff election to be settled today.

Amid all the hoopla of the election, we hope that voters will think about their choices and the candidates themselves. That’s difficult with millions of dollars flooding into the state from outside groups, including some “dark money” outfits that exploit a legal loophole allowing to keep their funders secret.

Like many others, we find it distasteful that negative campaigning has become so much the norm. Some voters might be turned off, but we encourage them to take another look and make an informed decision today, even if the duty is harder than usual.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. In case of a big turnout, everyone in line at polling places at 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot.

The campaign, at least that for governor, has obscured some of the more meaningful and thoughtful questions that will face state and local government in the next four years, as a coalition of nonpartisan policy groups has pointed out.

Further, the emphasis on party affiliation — Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South — has made Louisiana’s issues and concerns take a back seat to the parties’ desires to win one for their team.

Edwards is a conservative on social issues, so much so that his winning, or his losing, will mean nothing for the liberal candidates who are seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. This is not a referendum on national politics, however much party-oriented activists, right up to the White House, want to make it so.

Instead, when the dust settles, the people of Louisiana will have chosen a team in office that should work together to face the state’s challenges. That ought to be the decision-making criterion for voters today: Whom shall we pick to help us?

Outside groups continue to pour millions into bitter ad war to tilt Louisiana governor's race