Edwin Edwards

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Edwin Washington Edwards

50th, 52nd, and 54th
Governor of Louisiana
In office
January 13, 1992 – January 8, 1996
Lieutenant Governor Melinda Schegmann (1992-1996)
Preceded by Buddy Roemer
Succeeded by Murphy J. Foster, Jr.
In office
March 12, 1984 – March 14, 1988
Lieutenant Governor Robert Louis "Bobby Freeman (1984-1988)
Preceded by David C. Treen
Succeeded by Buddy Roemer
In office
May 9, 1972 – March 10, 1980
Lieutenant Governor Jimmy Fitzmorris
Preceded by John J. McKeithen
Succeeded by David C. Treen

U.S. Representative for Louisiana's former 7th Congressional District
In office
October 2, 1965 – May 9, 1972
Preceded by Theo Ashton Thompson
Succeeded by John Breaux

Louisiana State Senator
for Acadia Parish
In office
Preceded by Bill Cleveland

Born August 7, 1927
Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Died July 12, 2021 (aged 93)

Ascension Parish

Resting place Resthaven Gardens of Memory in south Baton Rouge
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) (1) Elaine Lucille Schwartzenburg Edwards (married 1949–1989, divorced)

(2) Candace Picou Edwards (married 1994–2004, divorced)
(3) Trina Grimes Scott Edwards (2011-2021, his death)

Children Anna
Alma mater Louisiana State University

LSU Law School

Occupation Attorney

United States Navy in World War II

Religion Roman Catholic

Edwin Washington Edwards (born August 7, 1927 – July 12, 2021) was a colorful, quick-witted Louisiana politician who served four nonconsecutive terms as the governor of his state 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 primaries, also called a "jungle primary,"[1] 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.

During his political career Edwards was known for his arrogance, even (successfully) claiming that the only way he could lose an election was to be "caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy".[2] On taking office in 1972, he named the labor and civil rights activist, A. Z. Young of Bogalusa as the first black to head a state government agency, the Department of Hospitals. He appointed his executive assistant, the Oklahoma native George A. Fischer (1927-2020), as the first Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, which was reorganized under the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. Fischer also served as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources prior to the reorganization of the agency. A United States Army veteran, Fischer owned the legendary Good Neighbor Restaurant, a floating yacht in the New Orleans harbor.[3]

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 the former Elaine Lucille Schwartzenburg,[4] 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 following the death of Allen J. Ellender.[4]

Edwards was released from prison in 2011 and thereafter wed 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 have been his granddaughter. The couple had a son thereafter and were featured on a short-lived A&E reality show, The Governor's Wife, in 2013.

Edwards went under hospice care for respiratory problems in July 2021 and died a few days later at the age of ninety-three at his home in Gonzales in Ascension Parish.[5] Edwards' passing, which came not long after the deaths of Buddy Roemer and Mike Foster, leaves only Republican former Governor Bobby Jindal as the only living former Louisiana governor.

In 2022, Trina Edwards, Edwin Edwards' third wife, became engaged to the former Edwards ally, John Alario, whose wife Alba died in 2006.

See also


  1. Officially termed nonpartisan blanket primary elections, under this procedure all candidates -- regardless of political party -- run in one election; if no single person gets a majority then a runoff is held between the top two vote-getters.
  2. Of course, had he run in San Francisco, either would have gotten him an overwhelming majority.
  3. George Fischer obituary. The Baton Rouge Advocate (April 7, 2022). Retrieved on April 11, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Tyler Bridges (May 14, 2018). Former Louisiana first lady Elaine Edwards dies: Edwin Edwards: 'She was a great asset'. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on May 15, 2018.
  5. Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards dead at 93. msn.com (WDSU Channel 6 NBC in Baton Rouge) (July 12, 2021).