Governor’s debate takeaways; new poll gives Rispone campaign life
From: News Star
Louisiana’s top three contenders clashed Monday in a debate featuring Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and GOP challengers U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone on the heels of a new poll showing Rispone overtaking Abraham for second place.
All three fielded a barrage of questions from members of the Press Club, but there was just as much buzz about whether the JMC Analytics poll commissioned by the Louisiana Association of Health Plans was bogus or the signal of a shakeup among the Republicans.
Following are key takeaways from Monday’s action:
The poll released by JMC Analytics has Edwards out front with 46% and within striking distance of an outright win in the primary election Oct. 12 because of a 4.2% percent margin of error, followed by Rispone at 21% and Abraham at 18%.
It’s the first public poll showing Rispone ahead of Abraham.
That’s a stark difference in numbers from the same pollster in a survey conducted less than two weeks ago when Abraham had an 8-point lead over his primary Republican rival.
But the poll was taken before Rispone, a wealthy Baton Rouge businessman, launched a statewide TV attack ad attacking Abraham and Nexstar’s statewide TV debate Thursday.
“I honestly think it’s a reflection of working hard getting our message out and that the debate helped,” Rispone said Monday. “The people saw a businessman (on that stage). I think that’s resonating.”
Abraham dismissed the JMC survey as “a fake poll.”
“He’s down 10 (points),” Abraham said of Rispone. “It’s a late election tactic trying to keep up.”
Nonetheless, Abraham’s campaign was forced to defend itself and refute the poll on social media, whereas Rispone’s camp touted the survey as proof their man “is surging.”
All three candidates differ on whether the state needs to have a full-blown convention to rewrite the Louisiana Constitution.
Rispone insisted rewriting the constitution is essential in providing budget flexibility by unlocking protected funding like K-12 education, coastal restoration and other priorities.
“I’m the only candidate who says we need a constitutional convention — a sea change,” Rispone said.
While Abraham said he’s “not opposed to a constitutional convention,” he believes it’s risky. “If you open us the entire constitution you put things on the chopping block like education that we believe are important,” he said.
Edwards noted any funding protected by the constitution had to pass the Legislature with a two-thirds vote and then win a majority from voters in an ensuing election. “I don’t propose reducing funding to education,” he said.
Abraham keeps ‘Reagan’s 11th Commandment’ so far
Although Rispone’s attack on his fellow Republican has made those within the party cringe, the contractor who’s invested more than $11 million of his fortune into his own campaign continues to throw political punches.
After Abraham explained his position on the state’s industrial tax exemption program saying locals should be at the table but the state should have the final say on whether to issue tax breaks, Rispone responded.
“That’s how a politician talks out of both sides of his mouth,” he said.
Abraham defended his positions, but resisted attacking Rispone directly, vowing to stick to what’s known as Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Never criticize a fellow Republican.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting and the Council for a Better Louisiana will broadcast the next statewide TV governor’s debate at 7 p.m. Thursday on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus.