BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has ended months of speculation about the Louisiana governor’s race, saying he won’t run against Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards in 2019.
The shocking announcement Monday removes a formidable opponent from the race and leaves Republicans scrambling without a well-known contender as they try to unseat the Deep South’s only Democratic governor.
Kennedy released his plans in a statement, saying he can help Louisiana by staying in Washington.
Suggestions that Kennedy would challenge Edwards began nearly as soon as he was elected senator two years ago. But Edwards remains popular, and Kennedy has quickly raised his profile in Washington.
Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone is the lone Republican challenger to Edwards’ bid for a second term. Also considering the race is U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham.
Governor John Bel Edwards released the following statement on the announcement:
“For Sen. Kennedy, this was never about the people of Louisiana. This was about focusing the spotlight on himself. Now that this is behind us, my hope is that he will make it a priority to work together with me and the entire congressional delegation to get things done for the hard working families of this state. There are more than 4.5 million good people who call Louisiana home. They deserve to have elected officials who will work together to put Louisiana first.
“I’m proud of my record as governor. Over the past 3 years we’ve started to clean up the mess we inherited, stabilized funding for critical services, and are running a budget surplus even after reducing the tax burden on the people of Louisiana by $600 million. More people are working in Louisiana than ever before, our state’s gross domestic product is at an all-time high, and we are securing the largest economic development projects in our state’s history. The state and our people are much better off now than they were three years ago, and I look forward to another 5 years of putting the people of Louisiana first.”