Tag Archives: Edwin Edwards

Ex-Klansman polls better than Trump among blacks? Wow!

david-duke-620x375

David Duke is polling better among African-Americans than Donald J. Trump.

That’s the lead of a Washington Post story about the U.S. Senate candidacy of a former Ku Klux Klansman.

Uh, that would be Duke.

Part of me should be shocked — shocked, I tell ya! — to know that a certifiable hater would do better than the Republican presidential nominee among black Americans.

Here’s the Washington Post story.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/05/david-dukes-getting-more-support-from-black-voters-in-his-race-than-donald-trump-is-in-his/

Duke is running as a Republican for the Senate seat in Louisiana, where he’s been a fixture for years on the fringes of the political mainstream. He has served in the Louisiana Legislature. I’ve never met the guy, although I did venture once across the state line to cover his unsuccessful bid to become governor. That was in 1991.

That’s where another part of me finds this report not quite so surprising. Dismaying, yes. Surprising? I’ll tell you a quick story.

I was working in Beaumont, Texas, at the Enterprise in the early 1990s. Duke was running for governor against the colorful incumbent “Cajun Edwin” Edwards. I thought I’d drive a few miles across the Sabine River into Louisiana to take an up-close look at the political climate there.

I went to Vinton, La., got out of my car and started visiting with plain ol’ folks about the¬†campaign.

I met an African-American woman who told me — and I am not making this up — that she was going to vote for Duke. I was stunned to hear it.¬†I recall today that she recognized the disbelief in my face and explained herself.

Duke, she said, sought to rid the welfare rolls of slackers. She was tired of those who were living off the government dole while doing nothing to improve themselves or their condition in life.

It did not matter to her that Duke once was a grand wizard of the KKK, an organization with a long, sordid and bloody history of violence against African-Americans, Jews and Third World immigrants.

This woman was living in the here and now and, by golly, David Duke was her man!

Does David Duke deserve a place in the U.S. Senate, where he would be voting on laws intended to govern all Americans? In my view, absolutely not! It’s not my call to make.

Still, the idea that this guy — of all guys running for Congress — would poll better among African-Americans than a major-party presidential nominee simply makes my head spin.

Louisianans try a new way

david_vitter_0

Edwin Edwards once was, shall we say, a colorful Louisiana politician.

When I think of the former Democratic governor I think of two quotes attributed to him. One was that the only time he’d ever lose an election is if he got “caught with a dead girl or a live boy.” Another alleged Edwardsism goes that the people of his state not only expected their politicians to be crooked, they “demanded it” of them.

Well, today the voters of the Pelican State showed a different side of themselves. They rejected Republican candidate David Vitter’s bid to become governor and elected instead a Democratic state senator,¬†John Bel Edwards … no relation to the infamous former Gov. Edwards.

Vitter, you see, is a sitting U.S. senator who in 2007 was caught fooling around with a prominent District of Columbia madam. His name appeared in some hookers’ black books.

His tawdry conduct became part of Edwards’s campaign strategy.

In deeply conservative and Republican Louisiana, Vitter was thought to be the prohibitive favorite to become the next governor, replacing Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal. Then Edwards, a former Army Ranger who had served in Iraq, launched a vicious attack ad that accused Vitter of “choosing prostitutes over patriots”; the ad took aim at Vitter’s Senate votes against veterans benefits.

Vitter’s campaign sought to portray Edwards as a liberal in the mold of President Obama, hoping that the president’s unpopularity in Louisiana would — if you’ll pardon the pun — turn the trick.

It didn’t.

I am heartened, though, to see that Louisianans decided they’d had enough of Vitter’s foolishness. They turned their back on a well-known incumbent senator who had sought another office back home — in the state that knows him well.

Perhaps, it turns out, they know him a little too well.

This wasn’t a parody

The Onion takes great pleasure in offering parodies of news events.

The link attached here talks about a black man who supports flying the Confederate flag — and who has just tripled his media appearance rates to tell¬† his story.

http://www.theonion.com/article/black-man-support-confederate-flag-triples-his-med-50727

It’s a hilarious send-up of a current news story.

However, it brings to mind a woman I met many years ago while covering a governor’s race in Louisiana. If only she had been pulling my leg at the time. She wasn’t.

The year was 1991. I was working in Beaumont, in the southeastern corner of Texas, about 25 miles from the Louisiana border. The Beaumont Enterprise was covering “regional news” back then, and still sold newspapers all the way to Lake Charles, La. I thought I could get an interesting commentary out of the governor’s race in the state next door, so I ventured across the Sabine River and went to Vinton, La., where voters were casting ballots.

The two candidates were the Democrat, former Gov. Edwin Edwards and the Republican, David Duke — yes, that David Duke, the Ku Klux Klansman.

I went to a polling place and talked to voters walking away. I approached a middle-aged African-American woman and asked her about the race — expecting fully to get the kind of response I’d heard from other African-Americans about a contest between a colorful former governor and the intensely controversial opponent, Duke.

What I got damn near bowled me over.

The woman said she voted for Duke!

The KKK stuff didn’t bother her, she said. His white supremacist views weren’t the deal-breaker, she explained.

Why did you vote for him? I asked. It was his stand on welfare, she said.

I truly thought she was kidding. I pressed her some more about her political leanings and she insisted that she was sincere. David Duke was her man because he wanted to get people off welfare, that she was tired of paying for other people’s food and housing. If they really wanted to work, she said, they could find a job.

Wow! Who knew?

Looking back on 24 years on that amazing encounter, I can read The Onion parody and wonder: Is it really a joke?

Hmmm. Yeah. It is.

 

This story went untold: Edwin Edwards's loss

While most of the U.S. political press was fixated on the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana, another contest ended and virtually no one cared about its conclusion.

Except me.

The Sixth Congressional District race featured a contest between Republican Garret Graves and Democrat Edwin Edwards. Yes, that Edwin Edwards. The former governor and former prison inmate.

He once was the state’s governor and served also in Congress, representing the state’s Seventh District. Edwards also was, shall we say, one of the more colorful politicians ever to serve Louisiana, a state known for colorful pols. Huey Long might have written the book on political flamboyance, but ol’ Cajun Edwin wrote a chapter, maybe two, in that book.

Edwards wasn’t your run-of-the-mill character. He was proud of the trouble he kept finding. Edwards once said (reportedly) that the only way he’d ever lose an election was to be caught frolicking with a “dead girl or a live boy.” (Maybe it was the other way around, but you get the idea.) Another quote attributed to Edwards is that Louisianans “don’t expect their politicians to be crooked, they demand it of them.”

I had the pleasure of watching his 1991 campaign for Louisiana governor against Ku Klux Klansman David Duke, who was the Republican nominee that year. I attended a couple of political events in southwestern Louisiana back when I was working for the Beaumont Enterprise. Edwards crushed Duke that year in a landslide.

Seven years later, he was indicted and then convicted of several counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion and money laundering. He spent two years in a federal lockup in Fort Worth. Yeah, he’s a prince of a guy.

Well, he wanted back into public life. He’s 80-plus years old now, a bit past his prime, no doubt.

I was pulling for him to score an upset. If nothing else, the House of Representatives could use a little proverbial color in its ranks. Edwards would have provided it — and then some.

 

 

Edwin Edwards making a comeback?

Awesome news is trickling out way over yonder in Louisiana.

It’s that former Gov. Edwin Edwards is thinking of making a political comeback. The formerly disgraced Democratic governor, who’s now 86 years of age, might run for a congressional seat that will be vacated when the incumbent runs this year against U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.

http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/house-races/194323-report-former-gov-edwin-edwards-considers-run-for-congress

The incumbent is a Republican, Bill Cassidy. He’ll run against Landrieu, meaning that his seat automatically becomes vacant, as he can’t run for two offices at the same time.

Edwards would create quite a stir were he to win the House seat. He has been convicted of money laundering and racketeering. Edwards has led quite a flamboyant life for as long as anyone can remember.

I had the pleasure of covering a bit of one of Edwards’s re-election campaigns while I was working in Beaumont, just about 25 miles from the Louisiana border. His GOP foe in 1991 was none other than Klansman David Duke. I’d say “former” except that Duke kept talking like an active KKK member as he campaigned around the state. Edwards won easily — thank goodness.

He’s a character of the first order.

I’ve been fond of repeating a quote that’s been attributed to Edwards. I cannot vouch for its accuracy but if he didn’t actually say it, he should have.

It’s that Louisianans don’t “expect their politicians to be corrupt. They demand it of them.”

Were he to win — and given Congress’s abysmal approval rating among Americans, it seems ol’ Cajun Edwin will fit right in.