Jordan Candler / November 23, 2015

Louisiana Goes Blue. Or Does It?

A “Republican loss” or a reflection on values?

Most reports suggest Louisiana Republicans suffered another blow this weekend. Not only did Governor Bobby Jindal recently end his presidential campaign, meaning his political talents won’t be brought to the White House, but a conservative won’t be filling his vacated seat. On Saturday, Republican Sen. David Vitter dropped the gubernatorial election to John Bel Edwards, a state Democrat lawmaker, by a 12-point margin — 56% to 44%. The sting hurts even more considering Vitter was long believed to be a shoo-in. Ultimately, however, a prostitution scandal from 2007 and a well-resonating message from Edwards derailed Vitter’s chances.

Which brings us to a few critical points. This wasn’t, as some newspapers surmise, a “Republican loss” so much as it was a reflection on values. As Hot Air notes, “If you dropped [Edwards] anywhere else in the country he’d be a Republican.” Indeed, The New York Times describes Edwards as “a Catholic social conservative from a family of rural law enforcement officers who graduated from West Point and served eight years of active duty in the Army.” The Wall Street Journal similarly writes, “Mr. Edwards, a former Army Ranger, neutralized the usual GOP cultural advantages by opposing abortion and defending gun rights.”

We can think of a few worse candidates — like Senator Vitter. Commentator Erick Erickson points out, “Vitter was a terrible, terrible candidate. … Republican primary voters want an actual conservative and at this point would rather go down fighting than sell out to candidates posing as Democrat-lite. Conservatives can win, but not with guys like Sen. David Vitter as their standard bearer.” Most importantly, he adds, “[R]unning against Barack Obama with nothing to offer has to be done with good candidates, not men accused of paying for prostitutes’ abortions.”

That’s not to say Edwards is a bona fide conservative leader. The Journal notes that Edwards “was a favorite of teachers unions and the plaintiffs bar, and we’ll see if he now does their bidding to roll back school choice and block much-needed tort reform.” That said, Republicans demonstrated their frustration with establishment incumbents and voters chose someone they believe to be the most qualified leader, regardless of that candidate’s party affiliation.

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