Our Views: After the campaign, reality will face the winner of Louisiana governor’s race
In political terms only, the two candidates to be Louisiana’s next governor are playing for the highest accolades possible.
If Eddie Rispone, who’s never held the humblest elected office, can run and win against an incumbent, it would be a remarkable achievement.
For incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards, a win would also be remarkable, since he’s the only Democratic governor in the Republican Deep South, and a recent target of barbs from the president of the United States.
But what will either of these gentlemen do in office?
Both seem to want the state to advance. For Rispone, there’s been too much — sorry to repeat his favorite phrase — “kicking the can down the road.” For Edwards, righting the ship after the budget crises and political decisions of the former Jindal administration are his core mantra about how he will fix things.
In both cases, though, their stature has been eroded by the negativity of the campaigns. Biting each other’s ankles in the last days of the race hasn’t illuminated much for voters on Election Day.
But we can project what might happen after the election, because the state’s needs — the cans that are still clanking down the road — remain the fundamental challenge facing the next administration in the coming four years.
A nonpartisan coalition of policy groups put this in stark relief with five questions inspired by studies of the real issues facing Louisiana — not down the road, but now.
What is the state going to do for talent in business and education in the next four years? What specifically would the candidates change in the Louisiana Constitution’s garbled and out-of-date tax code?
And those are the easiest questions.
The Reset Louisiana coalition of policy groups asks specifically how to get more annual revenue into the state’s hobbled transportation program, and how to build upon the criminal justice reforms of 2017.
Even harder: How to fix the vast retirement debts facing the state, and how to create a more competitive plan that works for the new generation of state workers.
If you want to critique the candidates on specifics, to the extent that they have made promises or pledges, there are reasons to criticize either man.
Against the Republican-backed criminal justice reform, Rispone has harped on old-fashioned throw-away-the-key rhetoric that is out of date even in Donald Trump’s White House. Edwards is clearly unhappy with anything that interferes with the status quo on pensions.
There are plenty of cans to kick down the road again, but the distance between reality and politics will matter a great deal on Saturday once the votes have been counted.