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John Bel Edwards Wins Louisiana Governor Race Despite Trump Influence

John Bel Edwards

Edwards issued an anti-discrimination executive order in 2016 protecting LGBTQ state employees and contractors.

Democrat John Bel Edwards claimed a narrow victory Saturday night in the Louisiana governor's race.

CNBC reports that Edwards won about 51 percent of the vote.

Edwards, who calls himself "squarely in the middle of the political spectrum," has said he is against marriage equality. Shortly after his election in 2016, however, he rescinded an anti-LGBTQ executive order from his predecessor and issued one of his own aimed at protecting LGBTQ state employees and contractors from discriminaton. The Louisiana Supreme Court nixed that order in 2018. In 2017, Edwards also signed into law a bill stripping the words "opposite sex" from state domestic violence statutes.

Edwards in 2018 also signed into law an unconstitutional ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Many saw the race between Edwards and his opponent, businessman Eddie Rispone, as a reflection on voter support for President Donald Trump. Trump, who won Louisiana by 20 points in the 2016 presidential election, held pro-Rispone rallies twice during the runoff election and fervently tweeted in favor of him Saturday night.

Rispone also echoed Trump's rhetoric, referring to himself as an "outsider" who would use his business experience to help Louisiana. Unlike some of his opponents in the Republican primary, Rispone did not explicitly campaign on anti-LGBTQ views, but he did repeatedly identify as a conservative Christian who is "pro-life," "pro-family," and "pro-God."

Trump's actions compelled some Louisianans to back Rispone, but pushed others to turn out in favor of Edwards, CNBC reported.

"I do not agree with what Rispone advocates," tour guide Andrea Hartman told CNBC. "I also don't want Trump coming here and telling me who to vote for."

The race result mirrors that of Kentucky's gubernatorial race earlier this month, in which Democrat Andy Beshear edged out incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin.

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