In what was called by Scott McKay of The Hayride “a personal repudiation of [mc_name name=’Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’V000127′ ],” Democrat John Bel Edwards won a landslide victory to become the next governor of the state of Louisiana. Vitter’s defeat was the worst defeat of a Republican since David Duke. Election night started out bad for Vitter, and only got worse as time went on, and he ended the night by saying he’s not going to seek re-election for the Senate come 2016.
During the campaign, Edwards ran as a conservative Democrat, touting his pro-life and pro-gun credentials, speaking about his military career. Many Republicans, disenchanted with yet another statewide race where talk of hookers would dominate the ads, and not being fans of the types of conservative reform Vitter promised, voted with a matter of pride for Edwards. “He’ll be conservative enough,” they all said. “We’ll be fine.”
Then, this happened:
Aside from stabilizing a bleeding budget with structural changes, the governor-elect wants to pass legislation that has been consistently defeated in the past like raising the minimum wage, an equal pay law for women, expanding Medicaid and increasing the earned income tax credit.
“When you pull up to a gas pump and put in $30 or $40 and go into the store to buy a bag of chips and a drink, chances are the clerk who takes your money is a single parent making minimum wage ($7.25 an hour),” Edwards said. “Think about how many hours he or she had to work just to be able to do what you just did.”
Edwards said he also believes he can sell an equal pay bill for women, asking who could oppose their daughter, sister or mother receiving the same pay for doing the same job as a man.
“I’ve promised fairness,” he said.
Edwards is technically able to expand Medicaid without the Legislature’s approval, but the governor-elect might need members to adjust a resolution passed last year to make sure the state has the vehicle to provide the state’s 10 percent match of federal funds for the expansion.
“Preserving the status quo isn’t possible,” said Edwards, saying the state’s safety net hospitals and other providers won’t survive without it, especially with reduced federal payments on the way.
Edwards insisted all of his initiatives, including those in his anti-poverty agenda, are mainstream, although conservatives might disagree.
Edwards says he has a “mandate” from the voters, and that the state legislature will comply. I do believe he is right on the latter part of that – many state “GOP” lawmakers in the state are Democrats who switched parties to stay electable, and voting records in this state are abysmal for just about all of them. Given some of the whining and moaning that’s coming out of Baton Rouge, however, I don’t think many of them saw Edwards’ agenda coming. They didn’t think through their plan of refusing to endorse Vitter or coming out in favor of Edwards, and now, they are stuck with four years of being enemies of the governor’s administration (well, those who have a modicum of conservatism in them, anyway).
Republicans in this state deserve John Bel Edwards and his agenda. Not because there is a mandate for his policies, as he so wrongly believes, but because they chose to vote against an admittedly personally flawed candidate. For better or worse, Louisiana deserves what is about to happen. In order to fix the budget and expand Medicaid like he wants, Edwards will get tax increases. He will push for social agendas the voters hate and get them passed.
No one should be surprised that this is happening, but they are, and that’s the saddest part of all.