The Return of Edwin Edwards

by John Fund

He’s BAACCCKKKK! We may already know what the most entertaining House race of the year will be. Former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, only three years removed from being released from federal prison for serving eight years on 17 counts of bribery, extortion and fraud, is running for Congress in an open seat that includes the state capital of Baton Rouge.

The man known as the Silver Fox, infamous for his risqué lifestyle, pungent quotes and larger-than-life personality, didn’t disappoint reporters at his announcement on Monday. “I acknowledge there are good reasons I should not run. But there are better reasons why I should,” said the 86-year-old former four-term Democratic governor. He said he could help secure approval of both the Keystone pipeline and a rapid-rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. On Obamacare, Edwards said he would have voted against it in Congress but now supports the Medicaid expansion part of the law that was vetoed by GOP governor Bobby Jindal.

Edwards still insists he was wrongly convicted in a federal case involving a riverboat casino scheme that surfaced during his last year in office in 1996. He claims secretly taped conversations by federal agents were misinterpreted.

But his quips and jibes were seldom misinterpreted while he was in office. He was always great copy. He is perhaps best known for saying that there was no way he could lose an election unless he “was caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.” When he won a famous race against former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in 1991, some of his reluctant supporters passed out bumper stickers that read: “Vote for the crook, not the Nazi. It’s important.”

The irrepressible Edwards always took a blasé attitude towards allegations that he was corrupt. When answering questions about receiving illegal campaign contributions, he replied that “it was illegal for them to give, but not for me to receive.” He was even blunter when reporters asked about a $150,000 payment he received from Tenneco: “It’s none of your business.”

What he is happy to discuss is his sexual prowess (“I give blood so they can make Viagra!”). In prison he became acquainted by mail with Trina Scott, a registered Republican 50 years his junior. The two were married after his release in 2011, starred in a reality TV show, and had a son, Eli, last year. When asked how he could get Republicans to vote for him if he advanced to a two-person runoff, he quipped, “I’m going to let Trina talk to them.”

Political analysts believe Edwards could make the runoff on name ID alone because the all-party primary has ten Republicans in it and almost no Democrats. But the odds of him then winning the heavily Republican district are slim. Still, Edwards knows that in Louisiana the saying goes that “you don’t have to fool all the people all the time, just enough of the people come election time.”

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