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Edwards Talks Reelect in Speech at Teachers Union Conference

Both state parties may agree about wanting to overhaul the primary system.

Nov. 20, 2018, 10:44 a.m.

A year from the election, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) "delivered what sounded like an early draft of his campaign stump speech Saturday" at the Louisiana Federation of Teachers annual conference in Baton Rouge, telling the "union to start 2019 'with a sense of purpose' about the race."

"Edwards told union members 'people are better off than they were' before he became governor almost three years ago. He touted some of his views that would be attractive to public school staff, among them plans for a pay raise in 2019, a commitment to protecting public employee pensions and a desire to increase elementary and secondary school funding.

"But Edwards also spent considerable time talking about political achievements that aren’t directly related to education or teachers, such as Medicaid expansion and criminal justice reform. He mentioned the 2019 election several times, and referenced potential opponents.

Edwards, using a phrase he would repeat throughout the speech: "Elections have consequences. You are going to have some very backward-thinking people asking for your vote.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R), "who served as state treasurer for almost 20 years before joining Congress, would be considered Edwards' most formidable opponent. Two other high-profile Republicans, Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Old Jefferson, have said in recent days they won’t run for governor, leaving many observers to think Kennedy has already made up his mind and that the GOP is clearing the field of most other conservative candidates.

"But if Edwards isn’t yet running against Kennedy specifically, he’s already running against somebody. 'I have political opponents, and anything I do - it has to be bad' in their eyes, Edwards told the teachers. 'I like my chances of winning' re-election, he added a few moments later." (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

PRIMARY. "Here's an election issue that Republicans and Democrats may be moving toward agreement on: eliminating Louisiana's odd 'jungle primary' system of electing state, local and congressional candidates and moving toward the more common closed primary system, where candidates of each major party compete in separate fields.

"In a blistering column recently published by the conservative website The Hayride, Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Louis Gurvich lamented the crowded field in the recent secretary of state primary that might have put two Democrats in the runoff."

"Meanwhile, Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, told The Advocate the state party hasn't taken a formal position on the idea yet but has supported measures in the past to move federal races to a party primary system." (Baton Rouge Advocate)

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