Out of prison, with a new wife and infant son, Edwin Edwards, 86, hits the campaign trail again.10:29 AM, Dec 7, 2014 • By MATT LABASH
Editor's note: "[F]our-time former governor and ex-convict Edwin Edwards -- a Louisiana icon, both beloved and reviled -- has lost his first, and likely last, political race at the ballot box," the Times-Picayune reports. We're reprinting this article on Edwards's attempted comeback, which originally appeared in the issue dated July 28, 2014, below.
The last time I saw Edwin Edwards, he was breaking the law. It was 14 years ago, in the cafeteria of the Russell B. Long federal courthouse in Baton Rouge, where a portrait of Russell’s dad Huey—the Kingfish himself—kept watch over the lobby. At the building’s ribbon-cutting several years earlier, Edwards, who was then in the last of his four nonconsecutive terms as emperor/governor of Louisiana (and who is now running for Congress), had joked that the ceremony was “my first invitation to a federal courthouse not delivered by U.S. marshals.”
Like all his best lines—and Edwards always had the best lines (on his electoral chances: The only way I can lose . . . is if I’m caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy; on his deliberative competitor: Dave Treen is so slow, it takes him an hour-and-a-half to watch 60 Minutes)—the one at his courthouse christening was dark, perfectly timed, and rooted in truth.
By early 2000, though, the joke was on Edwards. Claiming he was the victim of a political witch hunt, he had slipped the feds for decades in over a dozen grand jury probes. He’d even won two jury acquittals during the ’80s for the same alleged hospital-contracts scheme. But Edwards was finally on trial with six codefendants, including his son Stephen, for improperly influencing the disbursement of state riverboat casino licenses after leaving office. He was offered a plea deal which for only a year in prison would’ve let Stephen walk (his son told his dad he’d blow his brains out if dad capitulated). As an ice-water craps player who earned millions at Vegas gaming tables, often raising eyebrows by hauling cases full of cash to and from the governor’s mansion, Edwards rolled the dice.
Many Edwards-watchers found it peculiar that the law was finally closing in on Edwards, a populist Democrat in the Long tradition, for selling an office that he no longer owned. If you bug-zapped all the parasites who buy and sell influence in Washington, the city would fast resemble a postapocalyptic moonscape. And in graft-riddled Louisiana, where a large swath of elected officials have historically proven amenable to under-the-table remuneration, many considered Edwards’s activities to be run-of-the-mill lobbying. Besides, Republican Mike Foster had already replaced Edwards as governor. How much influence did Edwards have to peddle with a state gaming board he hadn’t appointed?
The feds had surreptitiously wired Edwards’s life—reportedly tapping even his bedroom, and perhaps giving them a salacious soundtrack. (The unapologetic womanizer once said the only thing he had in common with his electoral opponent David Duke, a former KKK member, was that “we are both wizards under the sheets.”) With 26,000 recorded conversations, there was no indisputable smoking gun. But the prosecution trotted out all manner of curiosities and a large cast of costars—large dollar figures scribbled on cocktail napkins, huge sums of cash stashed in ash bins or duck carcasses, heavy-breathing from codefendants wondering about people being wired—that kept everyone awake during a four-month trial. (Except the juror who was dismissed for sleeping.)
Both a fierce verbal jouster and wily former country lawyer (he was born the dirt-poor son of a sharecropper in Cajun country), Edwards never did himself many favors in the looking blameless department. In a turn that largely endeared him to the public while enraging his antagonists, Edwin habitually goosed his own outlaw image. Once, upon hearing that some jurors in his mid-’80s trial had stolen towels from the hotel where they were sequestered, he deadpanned, “I have been judged by a jury of my peers.”
9:28 PM, Dec 6, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The Associated Press has called the Louisiana Senate race for Republican Bill Cassidy. "BREAKING: Cassidy defeats Landrieu in Louisiana Senate race, bolstering GOP majority in new Senate," the AP tweets.
Mary Landrieu’s last stand.Dec 8, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 13 • By QUIN HILLYER
Atchafalaya Basin, La.
Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu is flailing in the political current. The three-term Democratic senator is a Hubert Humphrey liberal masked as a John Breaux left-centrist, submerged in a national party that’s now left of George McGovern, in a state where political winds are blowing starboard.
9:46 PM, Nov 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican Bill Cassidy will continue their race for the U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana in a December runoff, NBC News projects. Cassidy, a congressman from Baton Rouge, leads the incumbent Landrieu, but neither candidate will earn 50 percent of the vote. Under Louisiana's jungle primary laws, the winning candidate must receive a majority of the vote.
6:03 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu told NBC's Chuck Todd that she has had to work harder for her reelection to the U.S. Senate because the South has "not always been the friendliest place for African Americans."
9:01 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Entering the final fortnight of the Senate races, something of a pattern has started to develop. Republicans are leading in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in all states that were to the right of the national average in the 2012 election (which President Obama won by 4 points), with two exceptions: Kansas, which is tied; and North Carolina, where Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is clinging to a 2-point lead but has less than 46 percent support. These right-of-center states in which the GOP is leading include six where seats are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia.
4:04 PM, Sep 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Elbert Guillory, a state senator in Louisiana, has released a new web video through his Free At Last PAC that criticizes Democratic senator Mary Landrieu's record.
"Since 1996, black unemployment has doubled and the poverty rate for blacks has skyrocketed. Mary hasn't helped us all," says Guillory. "So on November 4, let's send her back home to her father's house or to her mansion in Washington, D.C., or wherever the heck she lives." The Republican pol doesn't mince words as he argues that blacks are "just a vote" to Landrieu and Democrats. Watch the video below:
So why did she build a DC mansion?1:31 PM, Sep 8, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana lists her parents' New Orleans address as her primary residence for voting purposes. But it's clear she and her husband consider their primary residence to be their multimillion-dollar home on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
11:04 AM, Sep 4, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democratic senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is already in the electoral battle of her life this November. Her national party is far out of step with Louisiana voters on health care, abortion, and energy issues, and the national mood is continuing to shift against the Democrats. And the leader of that party, President Obama, is deeply unpopular in the Bayou State.
Sep 8, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 48 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker reported last week that Senator Mary Landrieu, currently fighting for her seat in a tough reelection bid, may not actually reside in Louisiana. In January, she told the Federal Election Commission she lives in Washington, D.C. But she claimed her parents’ address in New Orleans as her own to qualify for the ballot in Louisiana. The GOP is now considering legal action to challenge her residency.
Democratic senator lives with parents.4:02 PM, Aug 28, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The Washington Post reports that Democratic senator Mary Landrieu doesn't own a home in her state of Louisiana, instead listing her residence on federal election forms as either a mansion she owns in Washington, D.C. or her parents' home in New Orleans. Landrieu, who is facing a tough reelection battle in November, is registered to vote at the New Orleans address.
12:00 AM, Jul 24, 2014 • By FRED BARNES
Republicans have distinct advantages in Senate races this year, including President Obama’s low job ratings, the number of vulnerable Democrats, and an unhappy national mood. But there’s another advantage: the generally high quality of their candidates. This wasn’t the case in 2010 and 2012, when Republicans blew chances to capture the Senate.
Out of prison, with a new wife and infant son, Edwin Edwards, 86, hits the campaign trail again Jul 28, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 43 • By MATT LABASH
9:01 AM, Apr 23, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The Arkansas Senate race has been close in virtually every serious poll. The Republican challenger, Tom Cotton, probably had a small lead a month or so ago; after a massive negative assault on him by Harry Reid's Super PAC, the Democratic incumbent, Mark Pryor, is probably now ahead by a point or two. That's the story told by every reputable public and private poll, including, I'm told, polls by both campaigns.
So what's up with the New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll released today showing Pryor up by 10 points?
8:06 AM, Apr 23, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor has a 10-point lead in his race to retain his Senate seat, according to a new poll from the New York Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation. A two-term senator, Pryor has 46 percent support, while his challenger, Republican congressman Tom Cotton, has 36 percent support. Pryor also has 47 percent approval rating as senator, the poll found.