WEEKLY: Why JBE Won’t Thump Trump

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Discussed at length during the National Governors Association’s recent meeting in Santa Fe was a plan to win back statehouses and unseat GOP officials by rallying voters against President Donald Trump. Even Republican governors, who share their party with the sitting president, expect to lose seats this election cycle, so naturally Democratic governors embraced the directive enthusiastically.

But don’t expect Gov. John Bel Edwards to be a major part of this national trend. In fact, he could become among the few Democratic governors not trying to ride the big, blue, anti-Trump wave. Aside from the political reality of the president’s popularity in Louisiana, Edwards has an actual, mostly positive relationship with Trump that’s still being developed.

“I don’t think the governor is going to become openly critical of the president,” said the deputy chief of staff Richard Carbo. “He thinks Bobby Jindal took the wrong approach with his relationship with Barack Obama. It doesn’t do anyone in the state any good to be combative with the president.”

Edwards has enjoyed his share of invites to the White House, where he has at least once been the sole Democrat in the room. Louisiana has even received some discretionary funding from the federal government, particularly excess in funds for reparations and replacements for projects in Plaquemines Parish that the governor said he asked the president for when they met in February. His staff also attributed the some of requested federal disaster funding to the relationship building. “It’s definitely paid off,” Carbo said.

On the flip side, the governor has challenged President Trump more than once. Edwards’ office is quick to point out that Edwards called the child-family immigration separation policy “abhorrent” during a phone call with the White House. Not long afterward, Edwards likewise sent a letter criticizing recent tariffs imposed by the president.

This story was originally published for Weekly subscribers on July 26, 2018. Wish you had read it then? Become a part of our elite community by subscribing today!

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CAPITOL GAINS: Does Louisiana need a lieutenant governor?

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