Former Gov. Edwin Edwards — four-time Louisiana governor, convicted felon and recent failed TV reality star — announced this afternoon at the Baton Rouge Press Club that he would be running for Louisiana's 6th District Congressional seat.
"I haven't had this much attention since the trial," Edwards began, referring to the federal trial that landed him in prison for eight years. "I acknowledge there are good reasons why I should not run, but there are better reasons why I should," he said, "And good reasons should give way to better reasons.
"I'm positive I can run, and I'm confident I can win," Edwards told the clearly amused crowd, bringing up former President Ronald Reagan's famous quote: "I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." He said he and his family had made the final decision to run a week and a half ago.
When Reagan said that in 1984, he was 73 years old. Edwards is 86.
Saying "I did not vote for Obama. Where I was, there were no voting machines," Edwards told the crowd he would not have supported the Affordable Care Act, before adding that he also disapproved of Gov. Bobby Jindal's refusal to accept federal Obamacare funding. Edwards also said he wanted to be on the House Public Works and Agriculture committees, before launching into a long anecdote about Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon. "Alea iacta est,
" he concluded — Latin for "the die is cast."
Edwards served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1972, representing the 7th District. When he left Congress, Richard Nixon was president, Paul McCartney had just formed the band Wings and The Waltons
had just debuted on TV.
The 6th District seat is being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, as he prepares to run against Sen. Mary Landrieu. Nearly a dozen other candidates have announced their intentions to run, including Gov. Bobby Jindal's former "coastal czar" Garret Graves and state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge. (Shortly after the press conference, Claitor tweeted
, "Unlike last time, don't vote for the crook. It's important.")
Edwards is a Democrat; most of the other announced candidates are Republicans. The 6th District, which is solidly Republican, was redrawn in 2011 to include much of south-central Louisiana from Baton Rouge to Houma, with spurs to the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain and parts of the parishes north of Baton Rouge.
Since being released from prison in 2011, Edwards has kept in the public eye. He has appeared with his biographer, Leo Honeycutt, to promote a 2009 biography; married his third wife, Trina Scott Edwards (a Republican), at the Hotel Monteleone in 2011; and signed a deal to appear in a reality TV show on the A&E Network, The Governor's Wife
. In August 2013, Trina Edwards gave birth to the couple's first child, Eli, when Edwards was 85.
Not all has gone Edwards' way, however. An appearance at LSU with former CNN talk-show host Larry King was a ticket-sale disaster, and The Governor's Wife
found its airdate delayed for nearly a year. It was ignominiously pulled from A&E's schedule after just a few airings. National political reporters, however, seem to remain charmed by the Edwards story and way with a quip, as demonstrated in this recent story in The Economist
, "They Use His Blood to Make Viagra."
Expect many, many more of those stories in coming weeks and months.
EDITED TO ADD:
Jason Doré, executive director of the Louisiana Republican Party, was quick out of the gate with a reaction
tying Edwards' past with the current state of the "Democrat Party":
“After failing to recruit credible candidates for multiple election cycles, the Louisiana Democrat Party finally landed a notable candidate for public office. Unfortunately, Edwin Edwards is known for all the wrong reasons. His antics may be fit for a reality show, but not public office.
The Edwards Administration brought Louisiana higher taxes, increased gambling and a culture of corruption that has harmed our image and business climate for decades. The days of Huey Long and Edwards style politics are behind us. Gov. Edwards is the poster child for the ‘good ‘ole boy’ way of doing things.
Given the current state of the Louisiana Democrat Party, we shouldn't be surprised by the Edwards candidacy. Edwin Edwards is the personification of the Louisiana Democrat Party.
As a state, we’ve moved beyond those days and we should not look back now. We’ll work tirelessly in the months to come to make sure that a conservative Republican is elected to serve the people of the Sixth Congressional District.”