U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham jumped into the Louisiana governor’s race today, becoming the second Republican to announce a run against Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards in the 2019 election and ensuring a fractured GOP field.
The congressman’s decision comes a month after he won re-election to a third term in the U.S. House and only days after U.S. Sen. John Kennedy declared he wouldn’t run against Edwards. Abraham hopes his quick decision upon Kennedy’s exit will keep other possible Republican contenders away from the race and rally GOP support for him.
“I’m running for governor, and I intend to win,” Abraham says in a brief statement announcing that he’ll have an official campaign launch early next year.
A family medicine doctor from rural northeast Louisiana, Abraham joins wealthy Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone as the Republican contenders vying to keep Edwards from a second term. Rispone, a first-time office-seeker, has said he’s willing to spend $5 million of his own cash on the race, while Abraham will have to rely more heavily on donors for his campaign.
Abraham, 64, had long been eyeing the governor’s race but faced difficult odds to gain traction if Kennedy, a prominent and popular Republican politician, had decided to run for the job. Abraham remains little-known across much of the state, despite his four years in Congress.
Edwards released a statement this morning in response to the announcement saying that he welcomes the debate, but hopes that Abraham reconsiders his decision to run because he was just re-elected to his position in Congress. Edwards also says in his statement that Abraham had previously stated he would not run so that he could devote time to the farm bill, the soybean crisis, the looming government shutdown, flood insurance expiration and “other issues the people of Louisiana have entrusted him to handle on their behalf.”