Governor John Bel Edwards pulled ahead early and maintained a strong lead over five opponents but did not hit that magical 50 percent plus one to win re-election in the primary Saturday.
Edwards led the pack with 47 percent against five opponents in Saturday's primary. According to complete but unofficial returns from the Secretary of State's office, the Governor will face Eddie Rispone in the Nov. 16 run-off election.
The following is a transcript of comments Edwards delivered to supporters at his campaign party Saturday night:
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the tragedy that happened in New Orleans this morning with the collapse of the Hard Rock Casino Hotel that was under construction. At least two lives were lost and many others were injured. I am so grateful for the New Orleans Police, Fire Department and paramedics who were there on the ground immediately working to help victims and prevent others from being injured.
Donna and I ask that you join your prayers to ours for the victims of this tragedy.
Look, I won’t be long up here because we’ve got just a little more work to do, so I’m going to be back up here on November 16th when we win this election!
First and foremost, I want to thank God who has guided every decision I’ve made as governor. I want to thank my family - especially my children and my beautiful wife and the best first lady in the history of the state of Louisiana.
And I want to thank all of you, whether you’re here in person, watching on TV or listening on the radio, who have shared my vision for this great and beautiful state we get to call home. You handed out yard signs, made phone calls, and donated your time and money because you all believe, just like me, that Louisiana’s best days are ahead!
I am also reminded of those who can’t be with us tonight. Today would have been my father’s 84th birthday. I wouldn’t be here today without the wisdom he passed down and values that he instilled in me and my brothers and sister. So thank you, Papa, and I miss you.
And of course, I am so grateful to my mother who is with us tonight and who along with my father provided so much love and support for our family. Love you Mama.
I’d also like to take a moment to talk about my wife Donna. Donna has dedicated every day in the Governor’s Mansion to helping our foster care children, supporting victims of human trafficking, and promoting music, arts and movement education as a former teacher. She’s been by my side for over 30 years and Louisiana is a better place because she’s your first lady.
I also want to thank the hardest working campaign staff. I told them from the beginning, we were not going to be outworked in this campaign, and they proved me right.
When you elected me your governor four years ago, I made a promise to you that I would put Louisiana First and for the past four years that is exactly what we have done.
Let me tell what that looks like today:
We turned a $2 billion deficit into a surplus. Today I can stand before you and say that more than 450,000 Louisianans have health insurance who didn’t before I became governor because of Medicaid Expansion.
We gave teachers their first pay raise in a decade. We made the first investments in higher education, K-12 education, and early childhood education in years. I am the first governor that can stand before you in 30 years that does not lead the state with the highest incarceration rate. And finally, more than 170 businesses moved to or expanded their home in Louisiana – beating out states like Colorado, Texas, and Tennessee.
Tonight, we are one step closer to four more years of moving Louisiana forward.
But friends, the progress that we have made is still at stake. It took all of us to put Louisiana back on a path to prosperity, but it only takes one person putting Washington style politics over the people of Louisiana to reverse everything that we have accomplished together.
And my fellow Louisianans, we are NOT going back.
But that is exactly what Eddie Rispone would have us do. He wants to put us right back on the path that led us straight into the ditch.
By the way this is an election not an auction.
You’ve often heard me talk about a breeze of hope felt across this great and beautiful state. My friends, you created that breeze and never once have you let it stop blowing.
Over the next 5 weeks, the partisan forces in Washington, DC are going to pull out all the stops. And There’s nothing they won’t say or do to try to win this election, but it won’t work.
We’re doing much better now because of the hard bipartisan work we’ve put into fixing this state. So now we have a choice. We can let that breeze continue to steer our sails forward or we can go back to being caught in a rut, deep in the ditch.
The people of Louisiana know we are better off than we were four years ago, and on November 16, we’re going to win this election. Because we have already seen brighter days, and they are only going to get brighter going forward. I am bullish on this election, and I am bullish on our future.
I ask for your prayers and I ask for your support. God bless."