WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The president lends the full power of his re-election campaign to the Republicans looking to unseat the Deep South's only Democratic governor. But, if his upcoming visit doesn't create a wave of momentum for Republicans, the race could be over before the weekend is.
President Trump is set to rally in Lake Charles, LA in an effort to boost Republican gubernatorial candidates ahead of Saturday's jungle primary (Source: Gray DC).
"Making the governor's seat red again is a huge priority," said Kayleigh McEnany, Donald Trump 2020 Campaign National Press Secretary.
She said the president's Louisiana rally has one purpose, offering a hand up to G.O.P. gubernatorial candidates, Rep. Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone.
Recent polling conducted on behalf of Gray Television suggests the Republican candidates need the help. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) earned support from 45 percent of voters polled, with Rispone and Abraham at 22 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
"When the president weighs into these races, it is an absolute game changer," McEnany said.
Neither the Democratic National Committee nor Democratic Governors' Association agreed to be interviewed for this story.
If Edwards, or any candidate, secures more than half of the vote when polls close this weekend, the race will be over. If not, the top two finishers, regardless of party, will face off in a run-off this November.
Our polling suggests Edwards is a strong favorite over either Rispone or Abraham.
The president's team predicts Edwards won't make it past Saturday, and voters will get to decide between the two Republicans. We asked if that's realistic.
"Absolutely," said McEnany while conceding no one knows what will happen. "I do think that we're going to see a shift in the tide of this race, and it will be because of President Trump."
Abraham and Rispone both issued statements welcoming the president to Lake Charles.
"Thankful and excited to have President Trump help us turn Louisiana red!. We need a conservative, outsider, and businessman to turn this state around," said Rispone. "As governor, I'll work with Trump to make Louisiana great again!"
"I'm excited to welcome my friend President Trump to Louisiana," said Abraham. "In Congress, I've worked with our President to Make America Great Again. I can't wait to work with him as the next Governor of Louisiana."
Edwards' team suggests the strength of their candidate. Campaign spokesman Eric Holl had this to say in a written statement:
"It's no surprise that the President is supporting members of his own political party. This last-minute rally is proof that the partisan forces in Washington realize that Gov. Edwards is supported by a wide range of people in Louisiana, from every political party and every background. Gov. Edwards has that support because he's put Louisiana first, working across party lines to turn a record deficit into a surplus, expand health care for working people and give teachers their first pay raise in a decade. Gov. Edwards will keep putting people over politics in his second term."
The President's rally is scheduled to begin at seven p.m. Friday, at the Lake Charles Civic Center Coliseum.
Polls close in the jungle primary 8 p.m. Saturday.
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