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Louisiana U.S. House: Edwards still in, “Kissing Congressman” out

Edwin Edwards, the disgraced former governor, makes runoff, but U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister’s re-election bid falls short

By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

louisiana mugBATON ROUGE (CFP) — Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, a larger-than-life politician who spent eight years behind bars for corruption, has earned a spot in the runoff for the 6th District U.S. House seat.

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister

But in the adjoining 5th District, U.S. Rep. Vance McAllister, who refused calls for his resignation after a video surfaced in April showing him passionately kissing a female staffer, finished fourth in Louisiana’s November 4 jungle primary, getting just 11 percent of the vote.

After the video surfaced, McAllister, a conservative Christian and married father of five first elected to the House in 2013, announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. But he later changed his mind, and his wife appeared in a TV ad on his behalf.

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

Edwards, 87, finished first in 6th District primary with 30 percent of the vote in a crowded field that included two fellow Democrats and eight Republicans. He will now face Republican Garret Graves, the former chairman of the state’s coastal protection authority, in the December 6 runoff.

The district, which takes in much of the southeastern part of the state including most of Baton Rouge, is strongly Republican, which will make Graves a prohibitive favorite in the runoff.

Still, getting into the runoff was a political triumph for the colorful octogenarian, who starred in a television reality show in 2013 with his third wife, Trina, who is 51 years his junionr.

Edwards served a record four terms as Louisiana’s governor between 1972 and 1996. In 1991, after being acquitted of federal corruption charges, he won a runoff against white supremacist David Duke. During that campaign, a popular bumper sticker urged Louisianians to “Vote For the Crook. It’s Important.”

In 2001, Edwards was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering stemming from his last terms as governor. he served eight years in prison.

As a convicted felon, Edwards is barred from seeking state office. But there is no prohibition on convicted felons seeking federal office.

Edwin Edwards running for U.S. House seat in Louisiana

The former governor, who served eight years in prison for corruption, is attempting a comeback at age 86

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com

louisiana mugBATON ROUGE, Louisiana (CFP) — Edwin Edwards, the colorful and controversial former Louisiana governor, will attempt a political comeback by seeking the state’s 6th District U.S. House seat.

Edwards, 86, a Democrat who served eight years in federal prison on corruption charges, announced his run March 17 during an appearance at the Baton Rouge Press Club.

House hopeful Edwin Edwards

House hopeful Edwin Edwards

“I’m positive I can run, and I’m confident I can win,” said Edwards, who was accompanied by his wife, Trina — 51 years his junior — and their 1-year-old son.

Edwards said he did not think his run would be an embarrassment to Louisiana.

“It might be something the state should be proud of because forgiveness, understanding and second chances are important in life and in politics,” he said.

Edwards is seeking the House seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. The district takes in parts of nine parishes in and around Baton Rouge.

Edwards told reporters that he had considered challenging Landrieu before deciding on the House race. As a convicted felon, Louisiana law bars him for running for a statewide office.

The district is heavily Republican, giving Mitt Romney 67 percent of the vote in 2012. However, with 10 Republicans in the race, Edwards has a good shot at making it through the state’s jungle primary, where candidates from all parties run in the same race and the two top vote getters advance to a runoff.

Edwards served a record four terms as Louisiana’s governor between 1972 and 1996. In 1991, after being acquitted of federal corruption charges, he won a runoff against white supremacist David Duke. During that campaign, a popular bumper sticker urged Louisianians to “Vote For the Crook. It’s Important.”

In 2001, Edwards was convicted on 17 counts of bribery, extortion, fraud and racketeering stemming from his last term as governor. Among the charges was that he took $400,000 from former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo for help him secure a casino license.

Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Edwards was released in 2011 after serving eight years. Less than a month later, he married Trina Edwards, who had been a prison pen pal. The couple starred in a reality television show, The Governor’s Wife, which aired on the A&E cable network in 2013.

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