John, to this date, Edwin Edwards remains the only Democrat I ever felt compelled to vote for. Of course, that was in the 1991 Louisiana governor’s runoff and his runoff opponent was David Duke, the reprehensible Klan leader. (I voted for Republican Buddy Roemer in the general election, but he missed the runoff by a wide mark). Edwards’s famous slogan for that runoff was “Elect the Crook: It’s Important.” I still had my voting residence in Louisiana, but moved shortly thereafter to D.C./Northern Virginia, so never had to suffer the effects of my vote.
Edwards, true to his slogan, was a crook and, except when indicted (which was more than once), rarely took issue with that characterization. But boy was he — and is he — ever the charmer. I met him once, when, as a senior in college in New Orleans, I was asked by the faculty of my college to represent the student body at a luncheon at the school where Edwards was the guest speaker, just before that 1991 election began in earnest. Apparently, the administration thought that putting a conservative student leader with the well-known Democratic politician would lead to fireworks. But it was quite the contrary. Edwards and I hit it off royally. We both knew where the other came from, expected nothing from each other, and just had fun giving each other grief.
After the luncheon, Edwards and I were exiting the building together and a phalanx of local news cameras was awaiting him. Just before he reached the cameras to make his remarks, I pulled him aside and, with a big smile, said to him, “Governor, it was certainly fun to meet you, but don’t expect my vote in the fall election.” Edwards, without missing a beat, pulled me close and whispered in my ear, “Shannen, I don’t want your [expletive deleted] vote.” And the expletive was as colorful as the man.
None of this means that Edwin Edwards has any business holding public office again. But it does explain a bit of how he keeps getting votes.