Louisiana House Minority Leader, John Bel Edwards, threw his hat into the ring for the next gubernatorial race Wednesday morning on the Jim Engster Show.
Edwards may see a fundraising advantage by announcing this early, but has a lot to overcome.
Other potential candidates include fellow democrat New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and republicans US Senator David Vitter, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, and State Treasurer John Kennedy.
As one of the few democratic leaders in the state, Edwards naturally falls on the list of suspected candidates. Robert Mann, a communications professor and political pundit, thinks Edwards’ actions this session would have been monitored with or without an announcement.
“Knowing that Jindal is a lame duck governor, knowing that there will be an open seat, everything that you do in this session, everything that Mitch Landrieu does, everything that John Kennedy does, it’s going to be looked at through the lens of a possible race for governor," Mann said.
John Bel Edwards is the first of rumored candidates to publicly announce his intent to run candidacy, but he may already be behind. According to campaign finance reports that were due last week, his funds lag far behind other possible contenders.
He's got other hurdles. “He’s not a household name, he’s not well known outside this region," Mann said. "He's got to start getting out, he’s got to start raising that money early. He’s got to get his name recognition up. He’s got to start much earlier than someone who’s known by 20, 40, 50, 90% of the people.”
Just being a representative could be a disadvantage for Edwards. He won’t be allowed to campaign during while in session. And Louisiana hasn’t seen a Governor come directly from the state House since Oscar K. Allen in 1936, who, unlike Edwards, was a member of the majority party at the time.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported incorrectly that Rep. John Bel Edwards would be the first to be elected governor directly from the state legislature since Oscar K. Allen. Gov. Mike Foster was elected directly from the state Senate in 1995.