Republican businessman Eddie Rispone said he entered the Louisiana governor’s race because he disagrees with Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards’ “whole approach to running the government,” from cabinet picks to financial policies.
A wealthy industrial contractor and first-time politician, Rispone announced his gubernatorial candidacy three months ago after listening to frustrated Republicans looking for someone to challenge Edwards on the October ballot. Rispone said he didn’t see any strong GOP candidates stepping into the race, and couldn’t imagine watching Edwards win a second term.
“The whole philosophy’s wrong,” Rispone says about Edwards’ performance, in his first wide-ranging interview since jumping into the race.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a doctor from rural Richland Parish, launched his own gubernatorial bid in December, raising concerns about infighting within the GOP rather than a united focus on defeating Edwards. Rispone dismissed such worries.
“Right now, I don’t think it’s hurting anything. It does motivate you to go out and raise money, get things done,” he said.
To show his seriousness as a candidate, Rispone poured $5 million of his own money into the race—and said he intends to spend it. Though the mild-mannered, self-made Baton Rouge businessman is making his first bid for public office, Rispone is no stranger to Louisiana’s political scene.
He’s a longtime donor to conservative candidates and causes. Rispone worked closely with former Gov. Bobby Jindal on workforce development initiatives and a sweeping education overhaul that expanded charter schools and voucher programs using tax dollars to help send children to private schools.
Rispone criticizes Edwards’ approach to stabilizing the state’s budget, saying the Democratic governor too quickly turned to taxes to fill financial gaps. But Rispone said he also disagreed with Jindal’s decision to repeatedly patch together budgets with short-term financing rather than match state spending to annual, recurring revenue. Read the full story from the interview.