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Gov. John Bel Edwards, right, shakes hands with businessman Eddie Rispone, center, as U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, left, and the other two attend an Oil and Natural Gas Industry Day event in May.

The season gets into full swing this week — and not just football season, though we’re as excited as anyone to see the New Orleans Saints back for another year. We’re talking about the political season, which has been at a low simmer since qualifying ended in August but is ready to reach full boil soon.

The governor’s race tops the ballot, of course. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards, a pro-life, pro-gun Democrat, will tout the benefits of his expanding Medicaid in Louisiana as well as his sound fiscal stewardship, which has produced Louisiana’s first surpluses in almost a decade. Edwards’ Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone, will attack him on several fronts, but so far their ads mostly emphasize three things: their defense of the Second Amendment, their faith in God and their unwavering support for President Donald Trump.

Abraham and Rispone are still introducing themselves to many voters, and both hope to face Edwards in a Nov. 16 runoff — if one is necessary. If Edwards doesn’t win a majority in the primary and faces a Republican in November, Trump may well join the effort to unseat the Deep South’s only Democratic governor.

Lieutenant Gov. Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon and Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain all seek re-election as well. The race for agriculture commissioner features Democrat Margee Green, who could find tough sledding in a state as deep-red as Louisiana.

Jefferson Parish voters have a lot on the line, starting with the all-powerful sheriff’s job, where incumbent Joe Lopinto once again faces former Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office spokesman John Fortunato in what is already a bitter contest. There’s also a red-hot race for parish president between two well-known politicos, Cynthia Lee Sheng and John Young, while the Council At-Large, Division B contest is a generational fight between veteran pol Paul Johnston against businessman and former TV anchor Scott Walker.

The ballot is often long and crowded during statewide election cycles, but this year ballot lengths vary considerably. For example, 11 candidates filed for the District 3 seat on the Jefferson Parish Council, whereas District 4 Councilman Dominick Impastato won re-election early when his sole opponent dropped out of the race. Many area legislative races likewise have been decided already. In some cases, incumbents failed to draw opponents; in others, challengers withdrew or courts declared them ineligible for failing to file income tax returns or for not meeting residency requirements. Overall, the Legislature will have many new faces next year because scores of incumbents are being forced out by term limits.

Early voting, which has become increasingly important in recent years as more and more voters opt for that convenience, begins Sept. 28. That’s less than a month away. While we’re all getting fired up for the Saints to take the field again, it’s important to look just as closely at the field of candidates.

For nonpartisan information on New Orleans candidates (including their responses to issue-oriented questions starting Sept. 13), check out the League of Women Voters of New Orleans’ website at

This is a commentary from Gambit, produced independently from reporters at the paper.