Friday, March 21, 2014

Louisiana Politics Rears its Interesting Head

You may recall that, back on February 12, I reported on the guilty verdicts rendered in the corruption prosecution of former New Orleans mayor, C. Ray Nagin. Within that post was a little tidbit about Nagin's fellow corruption ex-con, the frequent former Governor of Louisiana and recent occupant of a federal prison "camp," 86-year old EdwinWashington Edwards.

Edwards is what some might describe as a "colorful" figure.  Others might describe him as an eccentric fellow.  Or a corrupt scoundrel.  The term, "demagogue," also has a certain accurate ring to it.  He is definitely a raconteur.

Regardless of any epithet used to characterize The Governor, one thing is certain: the man is a championship quality politician.

In addition to occupying the Governor's Mansion for an aggregate of sixteen years, Edwards also served in the Louisiana state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. During those early years, he grew to be a master of creating political alliances and deals, so much so that in 1983 he was famously known to have bragged that he couldn't lose an election in Louisiana unless he was "caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy."  One Louisiana cartoonist came up with the following, but it was never published, making what would today be known as "viral" rounds in the state via FAX machine instead:

Weakened by a corruption scandal in 1985 (for which he was eventually acquitted, after at least one mistrial), Edwards eventually went down to defeat in 1987, withdrawing from the race when Buddy Roemer placed first in the Open Primary, and handing over the keys to the Governor's Mansion well before Roemer was to be sworn in.  But was he through?  Noooooo. Not our Edwin. He quietly girded his loins and prepared for a re-match in 1991. That race proved to be one of those you-can't-make-this-stuff-up kind of scenarios.

Governor Roemer had been wiped out politically by the mess that Edwards left him, so after the smoke cleared, the 1991 Open Primary saw first place occupied by good ol' Edwin, and second place, putting him into the run-off instead of third-place Roemer, was won by David Duke.  You know -- the David Duke who was at the time a KKK elite and radical neo-Nazi.  That was an "interesting" election, with at least one bumper sticker admonishing voters to "Vote for the Crook. It's Important,"  and the good people of Louisiana did just that -- they voted the Crook back in instead of the ultra-right-wing kook.

Edwards is also a bit of a ladies man.  He is currently in his second May/December marriage, having twice divorced -- his first marriage (to Elaine) ended after 40 years (and after having appointed her to fill an unfinished term in the U.S. Senate some 17 years earlier);  his first May/December union (to Candy) ended while he was imprisoned, because "she had suffered enough."

Edward and Candy Edwards

The current Mrs. Edwards is 35-year old Trina, also the mother of his fifth child, born in August of 2013.

The happy blended Edwards family

They met after she began corresponding with and visiting him in prison, and married after his parole in 2011. In addition to their joint venture of creating a new human being (which is just kinda creepy to think about), the Edwardses also recently partnered on an A&E television reality show, "The Governor's Wife."  The program also starred two of Edwards's 60-something daughters and Trina's sons, pictured above.  To say the show was woefully atrocious is wholly inadequate to describe just how very bad it was. Mercifully, it didn't last long.

So, why am I all about The Governor today?

You won't believe this.

Well, maybe you will.  It's happening in Louisiana, after all.

Earlier this week, on Monday, the unsinkable Edwin Edwards announced his 2014 run for the 6th Congressional District seat.  The Advocate, one of Louisiana's statewide newspapers, laid out in print what many people felt:

Many agree that former Gov. Edwin Edwards will turn a sleepy race for Louisiana’s congressional 6th District seat into something more interesting, but it’s not very likely he’ll win.

I mean, really.  A  felonious, washed-up politician, reality-show reject running for national office?  Right.

Wait. What?

Today, a local polling organization announced that Edwards is not only leading the field, he is leading by 23% over his nearest rival for the Primary.  The Daily Kos leapt into the "LA-6 just went from safe -Republican to HUGE PROBLEM for GOP" spin machine, because Edwards is, after all, a Democrat.

This race should get fully cranked up about the time pre-season  football hits.  I'm not sure which will be the more entertaining spectator sport.

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