After a day that saw the collapsing Vitter campaign rocked by a new wave of lurid scandal and ongoing criminal investigation, the embattled senator met Rep. John Bel Edwards in their first debate of the run-off, and was soundly defeated. Edwards’ debate performance underscored his principled character, his unparalleled command of the issues at stake, and his vision for the future. Vitter, by contrast, was unable to shake the persistent questions surrounding his moral failings. The ongoing developments of a JPSO investigation into illegal spying activity overshadowed what was roundly viewed as Vitter’s last shot at reviving his failing campaign.
Following tonight’s debate, leaders from around Louisiana offered their analysis of Edwards’ performance and the vision of leadership he offered.
Rep. Walt Leger III (D-91) said: “Tonight, John Bel Edwards offered clear, credible leadership on the most pressing issues facing our state. Voters across Louisiana are going to respond to that message, and elect a governor who will put Louisiana first.”
Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith (D-67): “I think what you saw tonight was a sharp study in contrasts, between a leader like John Bel Edwards who is ready to work across party lines and get things done for the people of Louisiana, and the kind of failed partisan politics that David Vitter relies on. The choice is clear.”
Senator Rick Gallot (Senate District 29) said: “On stage tonight we saw John Bel Edwards demonstrate a command of the issues and a compassion for the voters that has been sorely lacking in the governor’s mansion. John Bel showed again that he is a man of integrity and a leader with practical moral vision for Louisiana.”