State Representative John Bel Edwards (D) has defeated Senator David Vitter (R) in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race. Edwards won the race with 56% of the vote, compared to 43% for Vitter.
Following his loss, Vitter announced a break from politics and that he will be retiring from the Senate after his term ends in 2017. The race for his seat is now wide open.
“I’ve lost one political campaign in my life,” Vitter said. “And ironically, it’s the campaign that I’m most proud of, particularly the last few weeks fighting shoulder to shoulder with all of you.”
Then Vitter continued to announce his retirement. I’m eager to refocus on the important work of the United States Senate. I’m only going to be doing that for one more year through the end of this term.”
Vitter’s retirement was a striking reversal from where he stood a year ago. Vitter entered the race as the overwhelming favorite. Now, Vitter is viewing an exit from politics.
Edwards’s victory was a rare win for Democrats in the Deep South. Edwards is the first new statewide official to be elected since President Obama took office more than six years ago.
Vitter’s personal life was a major issue in the election. During the jungle primary, Vitter’s fellow Republicans used his prostitution scandal from 2007 to attack his credibility. Once Vitter and Edwards advanced to the run-off, Democrats continued the attack on Vitter.
One ad was particularly direct, “John Bel Edwards, who answered our country’s call and served as a Ranger … or David Vitter, who answered a prostitute’s call.”
In the state’s jungle primary, Edwards was the top candidate, although the combined Republican total was a majority. However, Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne (R), who unsuccessfully ran for governor, crossed party lines and endorsed Edwards.