Tropical Storm Barry and the Governor, Both Calmer Than Their Predecessors

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THE NEW YORK TIMES – In the last few days, as Tropical Storm — and, briefly, Hurricane — Barry rolled north through the state, Mr. Jindal’s successor, Gov. John Bel Edwards, brought his own rhythm to his numerous media briefings, a slower, decaffeinated style that put one in the mind of a father soberly and patiently explaining a hard financial reality to his children.

On Sunday night, Mr. Edwards, clad in a blue windbreaker and flanked by other state officials, declared that Louisiana had averted disaster, as the storm produced far less rain and damage than expected. He delivered the news in a matter-of-fact tone no different from the way he addressed residents in the tense moments before the storm made landfall.

“I, for one, am extremely grateful that the forecasted rains and flooding did not materialize,” he said. “This was a storm obviously that could have played out very, very differently.”

Mr. Edwards, a Democrat, was elected four years ago in large part because voters were worried about the huge structural deficits left by the departing Mr. Jindal, who pushed for tax cuts and breaks that failed to stimulate the economy and contributed to severe cutbacks in higher education funding.Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco with her notes as Col. H.L. Whitehorn spoke during a news conference held at the Hurricane Katrina emergency operations center in Baton Rouge in 2005.CreditLori Waselchuk for The New York Times

Soon after taking office, Mr. Edwards went on television with the same calm, no-nonsense voice and told Louisianans that the “devastating” budget crisis could be surmounted if the state showed the same resilience it did during hurricanes.

Mr. Edwards is up for re-election this year, and as the storm crept ashore Saturday, television footage in Louisiana was regularly interspersed with a campaign ad in support of his candidacy. “Four years ago, Bobby Jindal left Louisiana in crisis,” said a narrator, who noted that the state now runs a surplus.

Over the weekend, as the storm gathered strength and then withered, Mr. Edwards held several live televised briefings that reinforced his reputation as calm, competent, difficult to dislike and, at least by historical standards, a little bland.

“We’re thankful that the worst-case scenario did not happen,” he said. “But we understand here in Louisiana, if nowhere else, that will not always be the case.”

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