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Gov. John Bel Edwards Headed to Runoff Against Eddie Rispone in Louisiana Governor's Race

Aurianna Cordero
LSU Reveille
Republican businessman Eddie Rispone (left) Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards (middle) and Congressman Ralph Abraham (right) on the debate stage Sept. 19. Edwards and Rispone will face off in a Nov. 16 runoff in the Louisiana governor's race.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards will face Republican businessman Eddie Rispone in a November 16 runoff election after Saturday's gubernatorial primary.

Democrat John Bel Edwards was the leading vote getter, winning 47% of the total cast. But the incumbent fell short of the 50% threshold to win the election outright.

That means Edwards will square off against Rispone, who came in second place and edged out Republican Congressman Ralph Abraham.

The top two Republican candidates combined for 51 percent of the vote. After a nasty primary fight, Abraham buried the hatchet during his concession speech last night, endorsing Rispone.

For Edwards, falling just short of winning the race outright, means he will face a tougher bid for re-election. Now he must match up one-on-one against a Republican. History shows that no sitting Louisiana governor has ever won re-election after being forced into a runoff.

Many in the national GOP, including President Trump, came out in full force during the last days of the election to increase voter turnout. That effort appeared to have been successful. On twitter last night, Trump -- who had appeared in Lake Charles on Friday to rally the base -- took credit for helping to force the run-off.

Edwards, meanwhile, at this his election watch party last night in Baton Rouge urged voters to focus on his policies-- not his political party.

"So make no mistake about it and prepare yourselves because over the next five weeks, the partisan forces in Washington D C are going to pull out all the stops," Edwards said.

There was less drama in most of the other state-wide races.

Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, Attorney General Jeff Landry, Treasurer John Schroder and Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain all coasted to reelection Saturday.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin will face a familiar opponent in a run-off-- Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup. He defeated Collins-Greenup in a special election last year.

And in the election for Commissioner of Insurance -- which featured mud-slinging from both sides-- incumbent Jim Donelon defeated Tim Temple and won a sixth term.

In the hotly-anticipated vote on whether to create a new city of St. George, the pro-St. George side was victorious. The nearly six-year battle to incorporate a portion of southeast East Baton Rouge Parish into a new city was successful. St. George becomes the 5th city to incorporate in the parish, along with Baker, Zachary, Central and Baton Rouge.

Paul Braun was WRKF's Capitol Access reporter, from 2019 through 2023.