John Bel Edwards rallies supporters in Lafayette as temperature rises in governor’s race

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THE ADVOCATE – The governor, fresh off a legislative session where he championed a teacher pay raise, ticked off a list of what he sees as wins for the state, like expanded Medicaid, criminal justice reform and investments in colleges. 

Edwards’s event Tuesday brought him before a few dozen supporters at a hot and intimate midday rally at the French Press restaurant, where he held a fundraiser earlier in the day. 

The event is part of a R.V. tour that is taking the governor to Lake Charles Tuesday afternoon. He cancelled plans to cross the state over the next few days and instead returned to Baton Rouge Tuesday night to prepare emergency personnel for the severe weather threat expected later this week.

“We have a lot of momentum in Louisiana,” he said. “There are still challenges. We know that. But at least we can attack them from a position of strength.” 

At the rally and in a statewide TV ad, Edwards cast himself as an antidote to the budget crises Louisiana experienced at the tail end of former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration, and said his Republican opponents want to take the state back to those days. 

Volunteers for Congressman Ralph Abraham’s campaign stood outside the Edwards event with large signs that displayed negative news headlines about Louisiana. Abraham is one of Edwards’ two challengers. The other is wealthy businessman Eddie Rispone, of Baton Rouge. 

The benefits of being an incumbent governor were also evident at the rally Tuesday. Annette Fontenot, a school secretary and Edwards supporter in Lafayette, said she was excited about the pay raise she’s set to receive as part of Edwards’ legislative agenda. 

Danny Uriegas, Alderman of the Village of Cankton, outside of Scott, said he came to the event to thank the governor for $189,000 in funding in the state’s construction budget for the village’s water system. 

“This governor said he’d help the poor people,” Uriegas said. “We have a lot of poor people in Cankton. And he’s helping them.” 

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