Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards and his wife Trina Scott Edwards attend a 2012 luncheon for a Council For a Better Louisiana in Baton Rouge. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:28 AM
Like a recurring nightmare, the Circus Celebrity is back in town thanks to four-time Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards’ announcement that he plans to run for Congress in the fall.
Edwards ended months of rumor and speculation Monday when he announced at a meeting of the Baton Rouge Press Club that he intended to run for the 6th Congressional District seat, now held by Bill Cassidy.
Cassidy is challenging U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu in the fall election.
The 86-year-old Edwards, ever the showman, showed up pushing his 7-month-old son, Eli, in a baby stroller and with his wife, Trina, in tow.
“I acknowledge that there are good reasons why I should not run. I know them,” said Edwards, who spent 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of corruption in connection with the issuing of state riverboat licenses.
“But there are better reasons why I should. And good reasons have to give way to better reasons.”
Edwards said he would not make age an issue, paraphrasing Ronald Reagan, saying, “Younger candidates should not be penalized because of their youth and inexperience.”
He noted that a 101-year-old man in Florida is running for Congress this year.
“By the time I’m his age, I’ll be in my seventh term,” he said.
Edwards said he wants to bring some peace and quiet all the acrimony in Washington, D.C., noting he did not like some of the things that both right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats stand for.
Sounding like a Blue Dog Democrat, Edwards said he is for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada to Southeast Texas, and against the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, “not because I don’t agree with the intent of the legislation, but I feel ... it’s too fraught with pitfalls and unknown dangers.”
Edwards, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1972 representing the then-7th Congressional District, also took a shot at Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal for not accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid in the state.
At least one 6th District foe already took the gloves off.
“The Edwards administration is a stain on our state’s history. We can’t get caught up in the hype and forget his political legacy,” said Craig McCulloch, a Republican.
“This is the same man who extorted money from companies wanting to do business in Louisiana so that he and his friends could pad their pockets and the same man who stiff-armed the Legislature into passing $730 million in new personal taxes, $61 million in higher corporate income taxes and $190 million in additional gasoline taxes. He’s a career politician and a convicted felon.”
Political experts say Edwards faces an uphill fight in the conservative-leaning 6th District in the southern Baton Rouge area.
But don’t sell him short, either. Name recognition is not an issue for EWE in this race, nor political savvy or wit.
The question remains whether 6th District voters have had enough of his politics of old and will dispatch him to ride off into the sunset saddled with his accomplishments and misdeeds, which combine to ensure a tarnished legacy.