John Howell Sr. editorial 11/4/2014

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Colorful ex-gov making bid for congressional seat

Hands down, the most interesting election outcome today will be former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards attempt to win the seat to represent Louisiana’s Sixth Congressional District.

Now 87, Louisiana pols counted the four-time governor and congressman out at age 75 when he entered federal prison on a variety of racketeering and fraud charges related to the issuance of riverboat gambling licenses. Instead, Edwards found a new lease on life as letters from hundreds of supporters poured in, including correspondence from Trina, a 30-year-old divorced mother of two whom he married upon his release.

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(The Governor’s Wife TV reality show about Edwin, Trina and their having a baby was a flop, but even that did not hurt his standing among potential voters.)

Now in a district carved out to be a safe Republican seat, Edwards is considered likely to make the runoff as the lone Democrat among nine unknown Republican hopefuls also seeking the post in the open primary that in Louisiana includes candidates from all parties. Those same Louisiana pols who counted Edwards as good as dead when he was sent to prison are now saying that he has no chance of winning against a Republican in the runoff, but even they secretly hedge their bets.

Name recognition is his, even with his plethora of nicknames  and acronyms: E.W.E., the Cajun Prince, the Silver Fox, the Silver Zipper and the Lizard among them.

If Edwards and Louisiana politics interest you in the slightest, you will enjoy a July story by Mark Jacobson in New York Magazine (
Reading that article, I discovered I had once incorrectly attributed a quote to Edwards: “Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink.”

Actually, it was former Louisiana Gov. Earl Long who said that.

But Edwards said, according to Jacobson’s story: “Once that was good advice, but now you can meet someone in the middle of a field at midnight and they’re zooming in on you with a camera from outer space.”

I think that the continued fascination with Edwards among Louisiana voters and politicos everywhere is that with the gaggle candidates who have appeared on the scene in recent years thumping family values on the platform and then pursuing sophomoric sexual trysts when they think no one is looking, Edwards’ candor does not sound self-righteous.

After all, it was he who observed with his 1991 victory over former neo-Nazi and Klan leader David Duke, as quoted in the New York Magazine article, “Mr. Duke and I do not agree on many issues, but we do have one thing in common: We’re both wizards under the sheets.”