Edwin Washington Edwards (born 1927) is a retired Louisiana politician who served four nonconsecutive terms as the governor of his state. His tenure extend from 1972 to 1980, 1984 to 1988, and 1992 to 1996.
In his first election as governor in 1971-1972, Edwards defeated then state Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., of Shreveport in the Democratic Party runoff election and then Republican David C. Treen in the general election. In 1975, Edwards won a second term in the first of the state's nonpartisan blanket primary elections, a procedure which he had initiated in a bid to thwart the growth of the Republican Party in his state. Treen won the 1979 election for governor in a crowded field when Edwards could not seek a third consecutive term, but Edwards staged a major comeback in 1983 and handily unseated Treen. In each of his elections, Edwards enjoyed strong support from the African American community.
Edwards withdrew from a gubernatorial runoff in 1987, and the leading candidate that year, Buddy Roemer of Bossier City, became governor without a majority of the vote. In 1991, Edwards won his fourth term by defeating then State Representative David Duke, then of Jefferson Parish, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan who ran as a Republican but without state party backing. Duke had edged Roemer out of contention in the 1991 primary election. In the Duke-Edwards contest, even Edwards' old interparty rival, Treen, endorsed Edwards.
Prior to being governor, Edwards had been a member of the city council in Crowley in Acadia Parish in south Louisiana. He then served briefly in the Louisiana State Senate until he won a special election in 1965 for a seat in the United States House of Representatives, in which he served until his initial inauguration as governor.
A native of Marksville in Avoyelles Parish in south central Louisiana, Edwards served time in federal prison after his tenure as governor ended. Edwards was found guilty on seventeen of twenty-six counts in relation to the location of a prison in La Salle Parish. The convictions included racketeering, extortion, money laundering, mail fraud and wire fraud; Stephen Edwards, his son from his first marriage to Elaine Schwartzenburg Edwards (born 1929), was convicted on eighteen counts. Elaine Edwards had served from July to November 1972 by her husband's appointment as an interim U.S. senator.
Known for his arrogant, flamboyant persona, Edwards was released from prison in 2011. He soon married his third wife, the former Trina Grimes Scott, who had been his prison pen pal and at the age of thirty-two in 2012 is young enough to be his granddaughter.