ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Governor John Bel Edwards stopped by the KALB studio on Thursday to discuss the upcoming election season in Louisiana, including Congressman Ralph Abraham's decision to run for Governor:
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Steven-"Joining us in the studio now is Gov. John Bel Edwards, can't believe it's already election season again."
Edwards-"It feels like we have just gotten through with the election cycle and now we are in our fourth year, so it's election season again. I look forward to crisscrossing the state even more than I have and continue to meet with people and discuss with them where we are as a state, what my vision is to continue to move us forward. But, also to make sure everyone understands how much better off our state is today then we were three years ago. So, I am excited about the work we have been able to do, I am excited about the work that's coming up both as it relates to governing but also how it relates to the election."
Steven-"Big news today is that Rep. Abraham is going to run, what is your reaction?"
Edwards-"I'm looking for a good spirited, vigorous campaign. He will put his ideas out there for the state and I'm going to continue to put my vision out there for the state by putting Louisiana first and the progress that we made. How we need to maintain the current momentum we have in Louisiana so that we can have the opportunity, the future that we want for our children and grandchildren. This whole election is going to come down to are we better off than we were three years ago. Well, three years ago we had a two billion dollar deficit, we cut higher education funding more than any previous administration over the past eight years. Everyone knows we had a very unstable budget. We just had problem after problem, now we are in a much better state. We have economic development projects popping up left and right, our GDP is at an all-time high, which means our economy is doing well, individual wage growth is up, the second-highest in the country. We started the year with a three hundred million dollar surplus and then a 600 million dollar reduction in taxes for the people of Louisiana. So, I am excited about where we are, we have made tremendous progress and that's a case I look forward to making all across the state of Louisiana. Quite frankly, I hope there will be a good vigorous debate. I think Louisianians will have to decide do they want to go back to what they had under the previous administration or do they want to continue to move forward, I believe the people of Louisiana are going to continue to move forward and that's why we are going to be successful."
Steven-"The field isn't quite what we thought it would be, many thought Sen. Kennedy would run, what was your reaction to him not running?"
Edwards-"I anticipated he would run, I happen to know that because the state is doing so much better. The people of Louisiana, poll after poll, showed I have tremendous strength as we approach this next election. I know what the polls are so I'm not surprised he chose not to run. It is my hope that he will focus on the job that he has, that's not what he has done in the past and that he and I can work together to advance the interest of the people of Louisiana. There is an awful lot of work that needs to be done in Congress. Whether it's the NFIAP or whether it's coastal restoration here in Louisiana, a number of other things related to transportation, duplication of benefits problem we are still having with the flood of 2016. So, hopefully, we will be able to work together now to help the interests of the people of Louisiana and will focus on the job that he has and if so I look forward to working with him."
Steven-"Eddie Rispone also running, what are your thoughts?"
Edwards-"Well I have known Eddie for a long time, actually some of the Rispones come from Amite. I am excited about this race because it's not so much about Eddie Rispone or Abraham or me, it's about the people of Louisiana. We have a strong economy, record employment, we are meeting our tops obligations and so forth. The Medicaid expansion has been great for our state, criminal justice reform has been great for our state. So, there's a lot to run on there, I'm excited about it so it really doesn't matter to me whether it's Abraham, Rispone or whoever, the case that I have to make is to the people of Louisiana and it's a good case."
Steven-"Do you expect the field to get bigger?"
Edwards-"I don't have any expectations one way or another, whatever happens, happens. I just expect to win because I know what kind of reception I get when I travel the state."
Steven-"Before we go, Kathleen Blanco, former Governor is gravely ill, what would you like to say?"
Edwards-"Well, she is a dear friend to me and Donna, in fact, her whole family is, she's a tremendous public servant. I'll tell you she is a strong and faithful lady and we pray for her. We ask all the people across Louisiana to pray for her. She loves our state and she loves its people and she has demonstrated that over a lifetime of committed public service. so our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. Coach and all the children and grandchildren as well and I know this is a difficult time for them but prayer is a wonderful thing, she has told me before she can feel the prayers even though she's getting sicker over time she can feel those prayers so I encourage people to keep praying."