“This is a RALLY!” said District 96 Rep. Terry Landry to the standing room only crowd at the Sliman Theater Friday night. “This is a rally for our governor. This is a rally for our state. This is a rally for our future!”
With that, the Bunk Johnson Brazz Band kicked into “When The Saints Go Marching In” as applause and whoops went up from the audience awaiting the arrival of Gov. John Bel Edwards. Hundreds of people made their way to the Sliman from the Steamboat Pavilion after the site of the rally was changed due to the cold snap that moved in earlier in the day. A food truck provided jambalaya and red beans and rice to attendees on Main Street, while inside the building hundreds of Edwards campaign t-shirts and buttons were snapped up.
Across the street, two demonstrators holding “Trump 2020” signs staked out a spot, but left as temperatures dropped.
Iberia Parish Councilwoman-Elect Lady Fontenette Brown emceed the event, keeping the crowd engaged as Edwards made his way to the rally from events in St. Landry Parish.
“Your vote is your voice,” Brown said. “And if you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
When Edwards arrived a few minutes later, he entered through the front and made his way through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting many of the community leaders and campaign supporters who awaited him. As he took the stage, the crowd chanted “Four more years!”
After a gospel performance, Edwards launched into his stump speech. In addition to touting his administration’s accomplishments — bringing the state’s budget into the black, funding the first pay raise for the state’s teachers in a decade and seeing violent crime rates drop in the state’s largest cities — he attacked what he claimed were his opponent Eddie Rispone’s misrepresentations of his record.
“He makes these misrepresentations because he cannot run based on his ideas,” Edwards said. He cannot run based on his knowledge. He cannot run based on his vision.”
Edwards also chided Rispone for his attack on the governor’s military service last week when Rispone said that West Point would be embarrassed at Edwards.
“This is a very urgent and important election,” Edwards said. “We need a leader who will bring unity to Louisiana.”
He also ripped Rispone and other Republicans for their attacks on the state’s finances and the tax package Edwards was able to get passed to balance the budget.
“I remember them being there voting as well,” he said. “Now they act like they don’t know how any of those things happened. Listen to what he is saying. He wants to take us back to Bobby Jindal.”
Throughout the speech, Edwards kept returning to his touchstone phrase in encouraging the crowd to get out the vote.
“If we vote, we win,” he said. “If we vote, we win.”