LAFAYETTE, La. — Much has been said about his personality, but what about Edwin Edwards the politician? We spoke to two former lawmakers today who say Edwards was a master at getting po(litiical opponents to work together.
"So it was not the type of partisan, bitter politics that you see today," explains longtime state senator Donald Cravins, Sr. "It was more a matter of, 'We may disagree philosophically on this, but what's gonna do the greater good in this area-- which is part of the area that I represent-- which is part of the state of Louisiana. He was a master in that arena."
"Extremely well-liked who really had a direct people connection," offers former U.S. Congressman Jimmy Hayes. "If you want to know who he reminds me of, in terms of a national figure, it's Clinton. Bill Clinton had that same kind of connection with individuals. Edwin would remember people, when they had met, when they had talked to him before."
In many ways, Hayes says he might never have made it to Congress in the late nineties without Edwards intervention. Years before it seems, Governor Edwards was looking into multi-parish banking and wanted Hayes to be his banking commissioner.
"I was asked by the Governor, 'Do i want to do that?'" recalls Hayes, "and what i did not know at the time that I only learned years later, was that Edwards had promised two different people the job. Each one hated the other. so he had to find somebody who had unquestionable credentials, no political background and could put together the drafting. So that's how i got to be bank commissioner so he wouldn't have to tell either one of them the other one got it."
Cravins believes Edwards' ability to broker compromises and/or see his point of view usually had the state's best interests in mind. And, he adds, that the legend of Edwards belies his extraordinary intellect.
"He was the ultimate deal maker, but for the benefit of the people of the state of Louisiana. As for the other stories, I don't have any knowledge of those, but I do know you always had a person in that governor's office he was there, who you could walk up to and say, 'how do we fix this?" He was actually one of the smartest people that i ever dealt with.."
Donald Cravins, Sr. Jimmy Hayes. Unsolicited, both told me that Edwards loved the state of Louisiana, but even more so, he had a genuine, genuine affection for its amazing people.
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