In setback for Trump, Louisiana re-elects Democratic governor

John Bel Edwards wins a second term, narrowly beating Eddie Rispone in a hotly contested poll in the southern US state.

    Victory for Edwards comes on the heels of recent Democratic gains in Kentucky and Virginia [Matt Sullivan/AFP]
    Victory for Edwards comes on the heels of recent Democratic gains in Kentucky and Virginia [Matt Sullivan/AFP]

    The Democratic governor of the US state of Louisiana John Bel Edwards has been re-elected for a second term in office following a hotly contested race.

    Edwards on Saturday narrowly defeated Eddie Rispone, a Republican opponent who had closely aligned himself with US President Donald Trump

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    Edwards, a conservative Democrat, is the party's only governor in the Deep South. He campaigned on the state's strengthening economy.

    Trump, who had won 58 percent of the popular vote in Louisiana in the 2016 presidential election, had travelled to the state three times to support Rispone, a Republican businessman, and repeatedly supported the candidate on Twitter.

    On Saturday afternoon he urged voters on Twitter: "Louisiana, 3 hours left, get out and Vote for @EddieRispone for Governor. Lower taxes and much more!"

    In conceding the election, Rispone said he was disappointed in the result.

    "We have nothing to be ashamed of," he told supporters, and thanked Trump for campaigning for him in the state.

    "He (Trump) came down here three times specifically to try to help us," he said.

    The Democrat victory comes after mixed results in other recent elections.

    In Kentucky's gubernatorial election last week, Democratic challenger Andy Beshear defeated Republican Governor Matt Bevin despite the president's endorsement, while Democrats have also taken full control of state government in Virginia.

    In Mississippi earlier this month, Republicans comfortably kept control of the statehouse following strong support from Trump.

    Tom Perez, chairman of the DNC, said Edwards' victory was another sign of the "surging strength" of Democrats.

    "Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia have delivered a devastating warning to Donald Trump's Republican Party," he said in a statement.

    "Democrats are competing and winning in every corner of the country. Less than a year before the 2020 election, the wind is firmly at our backs," he added.

    The DNC invested heavily in the Louisiana Democratic Party to support Democrats' election efforts.

    SOURCE: News agencies