Edwards, Abraham meet in policy-focused gubernatorial forum
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards has faced one of his Republican gubernatorial challengers for the first time, squaring off with Congressman Ralph Abraham in a policy-focused forum that touched on health care, infrastructure and taxes.
Edwards, who is running for reelection, painted the state Thursday in a better light than when he took office, contrasting its current budget surplus with the $2 billion deficit he inherited when taking office.
The Advocate reports both men presented starkly different pictures of the current state of Louisiana.
Edwards said an Abraham governorship would return the state to the days of former Gov. Bobby Jindal, which he termed a "disaster."
"The people of Louisiana know they're doing better. They know our economy is doing better. They know we've gone from deficits to surplus," Edwards said.
Abraham attacked the governor's policies on taxes, Medicaid expansion and business friendliness. He criticized the governor's sales tax hike, which was passed along with support from the GOP-led Legislature to balance the budget, calling the state's current surplus "someone else's money."
In addition, he repeatedly brought up Louisiana's low rankings in areas like education and health care, criticizing Edwards as driving business and residents away from the state. Abraham also delivered several mainstream GOP positions, calling for things like lower and simpler taxes and tort reform.
"For goodness sake, let's stop raising taxes," Abraham said. "That's just not leadership."
Eddie Rispone, the other major GOP candidate in the race, did not attend. His campaign spokesman Anthony Ramirez said he was "on the road today with events in Lafayette and Natchitoches."