Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for governor, is asking Louisiana voters to give him a signed blank check. The only thing they really know about his plans for the state is what he has spent $11 million to say since he entered the race, and it isn’t much.
You know the drill: “I’m an outsider, a successful businessman and a disciple of President Donald Trump, and I will do for Louisiana what Trump has done for the country.”
Porky Pig of the old Looney Tunes cartoons said it best when he closed each show with, “That’s all folks!”
Rispone has said an awful lot about Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, his opponent next Saturday, but most of it is fabricated and exaggerated political rubbish. Like trashing the governor’s West Point and military record.
Again, you know the drill: “Edwards is a tax-and-spend liberal, the state is on the bottom of every national ranking, Louisiana is the only state losing jobs, Edwards has let thousands of criminals out of prison and he needs to be fired, etc.”
Whenever he is asked about how he plans to do anything, Rispone pretty much comes up with the same stuff about being a successful businessman, an outsider who is not a politician and he is loyal to President Trump. The only firm commitment he has made is to say he wants to rewrite the state constitution, but he hasn’t offered any details about what he wants to do there either.
The Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL), as it has done for 25 years, back in September before the primary, asked the three major gubernatorial candidates their views on 17 state issues. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, and Edwards responded with detailed answers on taxes, budgeting, education, the state constitution and the Legislature.
Rispone never filed any answers with CABL. However, when polls showed he was trailing Abraham, Rispone began to attack his fellow Republican’s congressional record, implying Abraham wasn’t a loyal Trump supporter and said he was just a politician like Edwards. It was more twisting of the facts, but enough to knock Abraham out of the runoff.
Now, along comes the Louisiana Municipal Association’s Legislative Committee asking both Edwards and Rispone questions important to the Louisiana cities and towns that the LMA represents. Edwards responded in detail to questions about his administration’s top priorities, and Rispone was again evasive.
Edwards said his top three priorities would be education, the economy and infrastructure, explaining what he hopes to do in each area. The governor said he wouldn’t support any legislation that spends local government funds without a state appropriation to replace that revenue.
Local governments got an opportunity for the first time under an Edwards executive order to have a voice in granting local property tax exemptions to industries. Rispone has criticized what Edwards did and said he would give that full authority back to the state.
Edwards said he would continue to work with local governments to find solutions to address the state’s highway, bridge and other infrastructure needs. Asked about having a staff member to work with local governments, the governor said he had one during his first term and will continue that practice.
The LMA got detailed answers to its nine questions from Edwards, and following is the complete response from Rispone:
“I believe Louisiana can be the best state in the South when it comes to jobs and opportunities for our children and future generations. I believe Louisiana is the greatest place in the world to call home. I believe Louisiana needs constitutional reform in order to make our state competitive with the rest of the nation when it comes to jobs and economic prosperity.
“Relative to a constitutional convention, I believe there are many rights that Louisianians hold dear; that shall not be infringed. Any erosion of our sacred right to life, the right to bear arms, the freedom to hunt and fish, and provisions for law enforcement and first responders will be fought with strong opposition and will be protected.
“I would like to reassure you and your membership; I promise to work with LMA and local government leaders and you will always have a seat at the table. I hope to unleash the power and potential of local governments as we begin transformation of our state.
“On behalf of me and my family, I want to thank you.”
Not much red meat there. Meanwhile, Edwards has proved he has lived up to and protected all those rights that Rispone is talking about. He has also demonstrated that local governments already have a place at his table.
Thanks to Edwards’ bipartisan work with the Legislature, the state’s fiscal house is in order, its credit rating has improved and education at every level is much better off financially and otherwise than it was four years ago.
Louisiana’s citizens know times are better, and locally this is substantiated by the unprecedented economic boom that we are enjoying in Southwest Louisiana. Rispone hasn’t given them any concrete evidence to prove he can do any better.