2015 Governor's Race

We’re far past the days when Huey Long won the governorship by promising free school textbooks for every child. Now it’s all about education reform. Where do today’s candidates stand?

“We label a lot of things in Louisiana ‘reform’, that don’t really offer or deliver much improvement,” says Democrat John Bel Edwards, who opposed the 2012 state education reforms, including school choice. The Republicans all support school choice.


Louisiana’s backlog of unfunded road and bridge projects sits at between $12-billion and $14-billion. How do the candidates for governor propose to catch up, and pay for new roadwork needs?

“Make it a priority in the Capital Outlay Budget, so that we’re going to provide particular projects in Capital Outlay a much higher percentage than we have right now to go to the backlog and the problem of preventive maintenance and road repair,” Jay Dardenne says.

Health care funding bleeds the most when Louisiana’s budget is in the red. Since it appears the scalpel will be wielded for some time yet to come, how do gubernatorial candidates plan to stitch Louisiana’s health care together?

”I would accept the Medicaid expansion, and I would do it very early in my administration,” John Bel Edwards says, adding that it makes fiscal sense. “They’re our tax dollars that are going to other states.”

David Vitter is more reserved about accepting the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

“I have not taken off the table — I’ve been very clear about this — expanding coverage under the Medicaid program.” But, Vitter says he would set conditions for doing so.


Higher education in Louisiana has been steadily dealt the budget axe, even as the state worked to grow its community and technical college system. How do the candidates for governor plan to fund higher ed, with continued budget shortfalls expected?

David Vitter says he’ll just put a halt to the problem.

“Higher ed has been cut and cut and cut, that has to stop, pure and simple. That's why I would start my administration with a special session on spending reform and tax reform to stop that never-ending cycle of cuts.”


For many, Louisiana’s environmental concerns start at the coast. Certainly, all four of the main gubernatorial candidates agree it’s a crucial issue.

“For our very survival, one of those key challenges is protecting and restoring and stabilizing the coast,” David Vitter says.

Jay Dardenne goes further.

“There is no greater threat to Louisiana than the loss of our coastline. It affects Shreveport and Chicago as much as it does Chackbay and other places along the coast.”

“It threatens many things that are special about Louisiana, including our fisheries, our wildlife, tourism, oil and gas,” John Bel Edwards elaborates.

Sue Lincoln

How are the candidates for governor planning to fix the state’s deficit—and what will that mean for the taxes you pay? Thus far, Scott Angelle, Jay Dardenne, John Bel Edwards and David Vitter have offered more generalities than specifics.

Sue Lincoln

While campaign songs may be “so last century”, many of the same issues that prompted Huey Long to pen “Every Man a King” still plague Louisiana more than 80 years later. A line in the song says, “There’s enough for all people to share,” yet Louisiana’s on-going budget problems contradict that sentiment. For the men who would be king -- the candidates for governor – the state’s budget problems dwarf everything else.

“The budget is going to be the first, second and third topics for the next governor to deal with,” Louisiana Budget Project director Jan Moller says, noting last year’s budget, the current budget, and next year’s budget are all in the red.

Ken Stewart / WRKF News

WRKF’s first annual Founders’ Luncheon featured political strategist James Carville.

“Every white Democrat in south Baton Rouge is here – all 30 of you,” he quipped, to appreciative laughter from the crowd of about 600.

S. Lincoln

Three of the four leading candidates for governor came to answer questions from the Baton Rouge Press Club Monday. That left the door open for sniping at David Vitter.

“Let me address just briefly the elephant not in the room, who has chosen not to come, not to answer any questions, not to confront the issues today,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne began. “I think it’s a foreshadowing of what may happen if we had another governor who’s going to avoid the press, and who’s not going to be willing to answer questions and talk to people every day.”

Marsanne Golsby

WRKF’s gubernatorial forum Friday night did not go as planned. Three of the four candidates cancelled on us.

“I want to thank David and Scott and John Bel for not showing up tonight,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne quipped. “I don’t think one of them was ever intending to come. The other two have been very faithful at coming to a lot of these, and I have no idea why they didn’t show up.”

Dardenne flew solo, bravely answering dozens of questions posed by the sold-out crowd in attendance.