John Bel Edwards

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John Bel Edwards

Incumbent
Assumed office 
January 11, 2016
Preceded by Bobby Jindal

Minority Leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives
In office
January 9, 2012 – December 10, 2015
Preceded by Jane Holland Smith
Succeeded by Harlie Eugene "Gene" Reynolds, Jr.

Louisiana State Representative for District 72 (Tangipahoa Parish)
In office
January 14, 2008 – December 10, 2015
Preceded by Robby Carter
Succeeded by Robby Carter

Born September 16, 1966
Amite, Tangipahoa Parish
Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Donna Hutto Edwards
Children Three children
Residence Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy

Louisiana State University Law Center

Occupation Lawyer

United States Army captain (1988-1996)

Religion Roman Catholic

John Bel Edwards (born September 16, 1966) is the Democratic governor of his native Louisiana. In the general election held on November 21, 2015, he defeated the Republican candidate, conservative U.S. Senator David Vitter, 646, 865 (56.1 percent) to 505,933 (43.9 percent).[1] On January 11, 2016, Edwards succeeded the term-limited Governor Bobby Jindal, who had failed in a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and a lawyer, Edwards was state representative for District 72 in Tangipahoa Parish, one of the Florida Parishes east of Baton Rouge. He is a long-term supporter and former delegate of U.S. President Barack H. Obama though Edwards proclaims a pro-life position on abortion. Vitter failed to make Edwards' connection to Obama and subsequently Hillary Rodham Clinton register with a majority of voters. After his crushing defeat for governor, Vitter announced that he would not seek a third term in the Senate in 2016, and the position went to Republican John Neely Kennedy, the former state treasurer.

Edwards named term-limited Democratic state Senator Ben Nevers of Bogalusa as his chief of staff. Laura Leach of Lake Charles, wealthy wife of former U.S. Representative Anthony Claude "Buddy" Leach, and African-American Mayor Jamie Mayo of Monroe joined his transition team.

Governor Edwards has pushed for various tax increases in an effort to close a large state operating deficit. One of his press spokespersons is Jim Beam of The Lake Charles American Press, who has argued for the need of greater state revenues. The push for taxes has brought the governor in repeated conflict with state House Speaker Taylor Barras of New Iberia.

In June 2018, Senator John Kennedy called upon Governor John Bel Edwards to step down from his position and turn the office over to Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, a Republican. Kennedy is critical of Edwards' repeated calling of special legislative sessions to obtain more tax increases to close a state budget deficit. Kennedy maintains spending must first be reduced before higher taxes should be considered. Edwards' office called Kennedy's demand "absurd." At issue is the yet unapproved renewal of a "temporary" one-cent state sales tax.[2] Kennedy's opposition to Edwards drew the scrutiny of the liberal Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper, which claimed the U.S. senator is using his office as "a platform for politically absurd suggestions" and should instead "focus on what is really important to those that elected him. The U.S. Senate, Kennedy's ostensible workplace, hasn't exactly been a model of accomplishment lately. If the senator is worried about the lack of political leadership these days, he should start by looking into the mirror."[3]

Ultimately after seven special sessions since 2016, enough Republican members of the House, such as Rob Shadoin of Ruston and Frank Hoffmann of Monroe, capitulated to approve a .45 percent of the expiring one-cent sales tax. When rounded, the .45 becomes the same .5 percent presented as Edwards' final offer.[4] The measure heads for certain passage in the state Senate, which though nominally Republican is run by Moderate Republican and former long-term Democrat John Alario, the Senate president who has long advocated for tax increases as well. Edwards will also get additional energy revenues in 2019 and funds from the taxation of goods and services sold on-line, as permitted through a United States Supreme Court ruling.


References

  1. Results for Election Date: 11/21/2015. Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved on November 29, 2015.
  2. Elizabeth Crisp (June 12, 2018). Sen. John Kennedy: John Bel Edwards should resign; governor's office says that's 'absurd'. Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on June 13, 2018.
  3. Our Views: John Kennedy worried about lack of leadership? He should look into the mirror (commentary). Baton Rouge Advocate (June 12, 2018). Retrieved on June 13, 2018.
  4. Elizabeth Crisp (June 22, 2018). Deal brokered: Louisiana House advances sales tax bill; here are next steps. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on June 23, 2018.