Louisiana voters resoundingly rejected Republican leadership on Saturday night, handing the governorship of their state to Democrat John Bel Edwards by a solid majority, making him the first Democrat elected to any office in that state since 2008. Tarred by his exposure as a “family values” hypocrite after news of his prostitution scandal broke, Republican candidate David Vitter also had to contend with the baggage of the utter disaster that was Bobby Jindal’s tenure in Louisiana.
Bobby Jindal’s atrocious mismanagement has ensured that Louisiana will remain as one of the poorest states in the union for the near future. He entered office with a $865 million budget surplus and will exit with a $1.6 billion deficit. He gave away some twelve billion dollars in corporate welfare, costing each taxpayer $2,500. He forcibly imposed his religious will on the state, allowing the Bible to be taught in lieu of science class in public high schools, passing anti-LGBT discrimination bills and closing all Planned Parenthoods in the state, even though none of them perform abortions; he was rewarded with a syphilis epidemic. He rejected Medicaid expansion, cut funding for higher education by 80%, and rejected an additional $300 million in federal stimulus money. Bel Edwards has a tall task facing him in trying to right the ship.
But Edwards isn’t wasting any time. He has pledged to expand Medicaid on his first day in office, giving healthcare coverage to a quarter of a million people. “I will always be honest!” proclaimed Edwards. “I will never embarrass you. I will get up every day fighting to put the people of Louisiana first.” It’s a huge win for both the Democratic Party and the people of Louisiana, and we applaud the voters for making the right choice.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.