A Political Action Committee supporting Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) has been running radio ads comparing his Republican opponent Eddie Rispone to former KKK leader David Duke.
The radio ads are the product of the Black Organization for Leadership Development, a PAC supporting Edwards, who has campaigned with the group’s leader, Jay Banks. Banks narrates the ads, which are airing in heavily African American parts of the state. The ads suggest there is no difference between Rispone, President Donald Trump, and Duke.
“What is the difference between David Duke, Eddie Rispone, and Donald Trump?” the ad says. “The only difference is that Rispone will be governor if you do not stop him. These people are telling you every day that they do not care about you or anyone who looks like you.”
The Associated Press reported that “Edwards spokesman Eric Holl said the BOLD advertising was ‘not paid for or authorized by the John Bel Edwards campaign.’” Holl did not expressly disavow the content of the ads while distancing the Edwards campaign from them.
Banks defended the message in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, saying, “If you look at Donald Trump’s rhetoric, if you look at Rispone’s platform, and compare it with the platform David Duke has when he ran for multiple offices, it’s still pretty much the same thing.”
The Edwards campaign is legally barred from coordinating directly with the PAC, but Banks told the Free Beacon that the PAC does get funding from the Louisiana Democratic Party “to run get-out-the-vote drives.”
Edwards has previously campaigned with and endorsed Banks when the latter ran for New Orleans City Council in 2017.
“You all know what a quality individual he is and what a good job he will do in New Orleans, because, quite frankly, you may not think there’s much tie-in between the governor of the state of Louisiana and a district councilman in New Orleans,” Edwards said of Banks. “But the truth is, it takes teamwork at all levels. … I’m excited to be here and support Jay and his candidacy for Council here in New Orleans.”
Edwards refused at that time to endorse anyone else for any other position in New Orleans, including the mayor.
Though most of the 2019 elections took place on Tuesday, the Louisiana gubernatorial race has not concluded. On October 12, no candidate won a majority of the vote during the primary, leading to a runoff between the top two candidates that will conclude on November 14. That pits Edwards against Rispone and could lead to another embarrassing loss for Republicans following the turnover of the Virginia legislature and the loss of the Kentucky governorship (Republicans swept other statewide elections).
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump traveled to Louisiana to campaign for Rispone, the AP reported.
“You’re going out to replace a radical, liberal Democrat as your governor,” Trump said during an event in the state. “John Bel Edwards has not done the job.”
Edwards is one of the few pro-life Democrats left in the country. Earlier this year, he signed an anti-abortion bill in the state that outlawed abortion once a heartbeat was detected. This led to anger from progressives in the state, but also means that his re-election isn’t a total loss for Republicans.