Ex-Gov. Edwards Won’t Agree With Landrieu About Blacks In The South

November 3, 2014 5:32 a.m.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) made something of a splash last week when she said that the South isn’t always the “friendliest place” for blacks. But Edwin Edwards (D), the colorful ex-governor who spent time in prison and is now running for Congress, seemed to bristle a bit at Landrieu’s comments in an interview with TPM.

Specifically, Landrieu told NBC News that the “South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

Edwards told TPM on Saturday that Louisiana is “a rather liberal state in racial nations and there always will be some people who have problem with people of a different race — Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, what have you,” but “by and large people will accept a person based upon his policies and performance.”

“Now look, I’ll be honest,” Edwards continued, “I’m sure there are some people who don’t like [President Barack Obama] and never will because he’s black. But I don’t think that’s a significant amount.”

Edwards’ comments came in a wide ranging interview just a few days before Election Day. Edwards, the former congressman, former governor, former convicted felon, and (for a short time) main character in a reality TV show, is running in the open “jungle” primary for Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) congressional seat. Cassidy is running against Landrieu in the race for U.S. Senate.

The seat drew about a dozen of contenders, most of whom are Republicans, in the heavily Republican district. Under state law, felons can’t run for statewide office until 15 years after they’ve been out of prison, so Edwards, 87, has opted for the next best thing: trying to come back to the House of Representatives.

Edwards is widely expected to make the runoff and face one of four Republicans also running for Louisiana’s sixth congressional district: state Sen. Dan Claitor (R), Paul Dietzel, Lenar Whitney, or Garret Graves. But in speaking to TPM, the former governor wouldn’t say who he expected to face or who he would prefer.

“IfI designate one of them, it might affect this campaign for good or bad and I just don’t want to do that,” Edwards said. He did, however, stress that he’s ready for the runoff.

“I have the background material and information I need to face any of these candidates in the runoff and I’m prepared for it. That’s my style,” Edwards said.

Robert Mann, a political columnist and LSU journalism professor expressed doubt over Edwards’ chances to the Associated Press recently, “The only chance he has of getting elected is if whoever he gets in the runoff with drops dead of a heart attack or gets struck by lightning.”

It’s actually a somewhat similar situation to Landrieu, who is expected to make it to a runoff against Cassidy and then could lose in the head-to-head contest. Landrieu’s race is one of the seats Republicans need to take control of the Senate. Edwards, ever the Democrat, refused to echo forecasters’ prediction that the GOP would likely win control of the Senate. If the GOP did move into the majority, that might actually be good for Democrats in the long run, Edwards said.

“If the Republicans take over the Senate, we will see the beginning of a movement back to what is the middle ground,” Edwards said.

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