With Election Day now 24 hours away, Eddie Rispone and his camp have been busy making appearances across the state in an attempt to garner last-minute votes in the race for governor of Louisiana.
Despite a scheduling conflict that kept him away from a planned Lake Charles meet and greet Thursday, Rispone granted telephone interviews from Baton Rouge before heading out to New Orleans, where he will begin his final day of campaigning before voters head to the polls Saturday morning.
Though Rispone isn't leading the race at the moment, he remains confident, stating in addition to the positive feedback he is receiving, "people are really starting to take note that I am the only candidate who is not a career politician — I am a proven job-creator and CEO."
When asked what his thoughts are specifically for Southwest Louisiana, Rispone said he is looking at the state of Louisiana as a whole, but acknowledged this area has some very important resources that need to be protected and improved upon — especially the much-discussed Interstate 10 bridge.
"The I-10 bridge is infrastructure," he said. "As Louisiana governor, I am going to take the politics out of the infrastructure. We're going to do a feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis, and we're going to get that bridge replaced and we're going to do it soon."
In addition to infrastructure, Rispone said he is also extremely concerned with the rate at which people and business owners are leaving the state — an act he feels is due, in part, to the high cost of auto insurance for residents.
"Louisiana has the second-highest car insurance rates in the country. For the lower and middle class, this is a real burden; these families are only carrying the bare minimum coverage available. And they aren't paying their premiums," he said. "When they don't pay, the DMV fines them, and then they lose their license and end up not being able to get to work. I've got business owners telling me that they are losing good employees because of this problem."
It's not just employers losing valuable employees, either, he said.
"Heavy haulers are looking to move to Mississippi and Arkansas; to move out of state and take their businesses with them because insurance is so outrageous."
Job loss isn't simply the result of high insurance premiums, Rispone said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has also been directly responsible for many of Louisiana's lost opportunities in his opinion.
"He is a tax-and-spend liberal," Rispone said. "A career politician who has attacked the oil and gas industry and just keeps kicking the can down the road rather than getting things done."
Rispone will bring his campaign to Lake Charles tonight to show his support for President Donald Trump during his rally at the Civic Center. As for Election Day, Rispone said he plans to attend Mass with his wife Saturday afternoon and will round out the day watching some LSU football while he waits for the results from the polls.