Democrat John Bel Edwards wins Louisiana governor's race | us news

Democrat John Bel Edwards wins Louisiana governor’s race

22 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP News in Brief at 9:06 a.m. EST.

BRUSSELS (AP) — Western leaders stepped up the rhetoric against the Islamic State group on Sunday as residents of the Belgian capital awoke to largely empty streets and the city entered its second day under the highest threat level.NEW ORLEANS — Democrat John Bel Edwards won the runoff election for Louisiana governor Saturday, defeating the once-heavy favorite, Republican David Vitter, and handing the Democrats their first statewide victory since 2008. With a menace of Paris-style attacks against Brussels and a missing suspect in the deadly Nov. 13 attacks in France last spotted crossing into Belgium, the city kept subways and underground trams closed for a second day.

Voters’ rejection of Vitter was a stunning turn of events for the U.S. senator, who has been a political powerhouse in the state for years and started his campaign nearly two years ago as the race’s front-runner. Edwards, a Catholic social conservative from a family of rural law enforcement officers who graduated from West Point and served eight years of active duty in the Army.

Western leaders, meanwhile, vowed to stand up to IS, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more, the suicide bombings in Beirut that killed 43 people and injured more than 200, and the downing of the Russian airline carrying 224 people in Sinai. At least $30 million was spent in the race, from candidates and outside groups who have played a larger role in this year’s competition than in prior state elections. PARIS (AP) — The vibe in the Bataclan concert hall was hot, steamy and electric as the California rock band Eagles of Death Metal jammed away a half-hour into a set. Edwards focused on his West Point degree and military resume, and he pledged a bipartisan leadership style. “The people have chosen hope over scorn, over negativity and over distrust of others,” Edwards said in his victory speech, before leading a second-line parade with a jazz band through the French Quarter hotel ballroom. But it apparently didn’t work. “I had decided when I decided to make this race with (wife) Wendy that I wanted to pursue new challenges outside the Senate no matter what.

Like the hapless U.S. generals and their Pentagon bosses in the 1960s, Vitter made several fatal miscalculations: First, he underestimated and misunderstood his opponent. And he fought with once-successful, but now-outdated, strategies from previous campaigns. (Full disclosure: Last spring, I would not have disputed Vitter’s strategy.

Republican strategists in Washington had expressed reluctance to put money behind him, preferring a candidate who would be an easier sell in a tricky election year for Senate Republicans. In fact, I wrote that it would probably work.) In his book On War, the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz observed that the “first, the supreme, the most far-reaching act of judgment that the statesman and commander have to make is to establish . . . the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, nor trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its true nature.

The legendary music venue in a shabby-chic corner of Paris turned into a chamber of death that one policeman described as “Dante’s Inferno,” as three men laden with explosives and toting Kalashnikovs fired indiscriminately at revelers, turning the dance floor into a sea of blood and body parts. “I crawled on the ground as low as possible without getting up,” said Arthur, one of the Bataclan fans, who didn’t give his last name. “I scrambled for the emergency exit on the left. This is the first of all strategic questions and the most comprehensive.” Most Vietnam War historians agree that the U.S. military ignored Clausewitz’s wisdom. In a state that has not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2008, and in a part of the country where Democratic campaigns for governor are mostly suicide missions, a Republican was assumed to have an easy path to victory.

Vitter was thought to be that Republican, given his overwhelming fund-raising advantage, unquestioned conservative reputation and proven skill at crushing challengers. Put simply, our generals employed World War II and Korean War-style tactics to fight an insurgency in South Vietnam that was not about territory but hearts and minds.

Outside people on higher floors of the concert hall dangled desperately from windows, facing the choice of gunfire from the attackers or a bone-shattering drop to the ground. The president also pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to align himself with the U.S.-led coalition, noting that IS has been accused of bringing down a Russian passenger jet last month, killing 224 people. But Vitter was hit with repeated attacks for a 2007 prostitution scandal in which he apologized for a “serious sin” after he was linked through phone records to Washington’s “D.C.

Madam.” He had trouble uniting Republicans after a blistering primary competition in which Vitter trashed two GOP rivals and received heavy criticism for his scorched-earth political style. Simply put, Vitter fought “the last war.” Based on earlier, successful campaigns, Vitter assumed he would easily win so long as he faced a Democrat in Saturday’s runoff (Louisiana has an open election system in which Democrats and Republicans are on the same ballot in a non-partisan primary). NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Democrats in Louisiana rejoiced as they reclaimed the governor’s mansion for the first time in eight years, while the state’s GOP leader insisted “our Republican brand is strong” even amid the defeat of a one-time political powerhouse, Republican U.S. Vitter’s experience told him that from there, victory was a simple matter of raising as much money as possible and using it to run spots attacking Edwards as an Obama clone. With his anti-abortion and pro-gun stances and tenure as an Army Ranger, Edwards downplayed his Democratic roots, positioned himself as a moderate and said he’d govern in a way that unites the state, claiming Vitter would bring his divisive, Washington-style politics to Louisiana.

Soon after, a private investigator working for the Vitter campaign was arrested after surreptitiously filming a group of men at a cafe outside New Orleans — a gathering that included another private investigator, one who had tracked down the escort in the online video. Edwards’ win offered a rare pick-up of a governor’s seat for Democrats in the conservative Deep South, but Republican leaders insisted it was a one-time fluke that didn’t suggest the GOP was on the ropes in Louisiana. Vitter said Edwards was misrepresenting a record filled with votes supporting teacher unions and trial lawyers and opposing business interests and education reform efforts.

The candidates did little to mask their distaste for each other in the two televised runoff debates, both of which escalated into near shouting matches at various points. The handwritten notes on the stationery of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan were traditionally sent to those alleged to have worked with Afghan security forces or U.S.-led troops, listing their “crimes” and warning that a “military commission” would decide on their punishment. They would close with the mafia-style caveat that insurgents “will take no further responsibility for what happens in the future.” But nowadays the Taliban say they have mostly ceased the practice, while those selling forged threat letters are doing a brisk business as tens of thousands of Afghans flee to Europe, hoping to claim asylum. Forgers say a convincing threat letter can go for up to $1,000. “Of the threat letters now being presented to European authorities by Afghans, I’d say only one percent are real and 99 percent are phony,” said Mukhamil, 35, who has forged and sold 20 such letters. Edwards: warnings that he was an “Obama liberal” in Blue Dog clothing; provocative attack ads accusing him of wanting to release “thugs” from prison or of being dangerously uncommitted to keeping out Syrian refugees; and personal ads in which Mr.

Justice Department attorneys are expected to fly to Minnesota on Sunday to investigate the killing of a black man that has prompted protests and calls for the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting to be prosecuted. A key issue during their visit will be whether authorities should release to the public videos of the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark a week ago. That year, Vitter also aired an ugly, racist TV spot that attacked Melancon and vilified illegal aliens (he showed swarthy Mexican-looking men climbing through a fence and running toward a waiting limousine). Federal and state authorities have resisted releasing the footage — from an ambulance, mobile police camera, public housing cameras and people’s cellphones — because they said it doesn’t show the full incident and making the recordings public would compromise their investigations.

A deep freeze set in across the Midwest on Sunday with low temperatures forecast in the single digits and a few below zero, turning the season’s first major snow into ice that made some roads treacherous to travel. Vitter during his remaining time in the Senate and to “work together regardless of party” — something he will be forced to do with a Republican-controlled Legislature.

Edwards returned to a theme he had emphasized in contrasting himself with his opponent. “I will always be honest,” he said. “I will never embarrass you. Chicago could see a low of 9 degrees early Sunday and around 20 degrees at noon when the Chicago Bears take on the Denver Broncos in an NFL game at Soldier Field. Relying on his 2010 success, this year Vitter launched his runoff campaign in late October with a racist, Willie Horton-like spot that tried to tie Edwards to Obama’s plan to release 6,000 federal inmates jailed for non-violent crimes. TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has sentenced detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian state TV reported Sunday. In the spot, photos of Obama and Edwards were juxtaposed as the announcer warned, “Voting for Edwards is like voting to make Obama Louisiana’s next governor.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — From rising crime to soaring prices, Argentines will have a lot on their minds during Sunday’s runoff election, which is seen as a referendum on the left-leaning policies of polarizing President Cristina Fernandez and could have ripple effects across South America. Opposition leader Mauricio Macri, who campaigned on promises to bring large changes to Argentina’s economy, went in as the front-runner after his unexpectedly strong showing in the Oct. 25 first round that forced a runoff against Daniel Scioli, the president’s chosen successor.

Scioli, who had been expected to win by 10 or more points in last month’s six-candidate election, tried to regain momentum by frequently attacking Macri before the runoff. Edwards joined Obama, promising at Southern University he’ll release fifty-five hundred in Louisiana alone,” the spot continued. “Fifty-five hundred dangerous thugs, drug dealers, back into our streets.” The spot not only exposed Vitter as a panderer to racists, but it also didn’t work. He said a Macri victory would subject this nation of 41 million people to the market-driven policies of the 1990s, a period of deregulation that many Argentines believe set the stage for the financial meltdown of 2001-2002. Macri rejected such characterizations, saying he would lead with “21st century development” as opposed to “21st century socialism” — a term used by supporters of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

If elected, he said, he would push to expel Venezuela from the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur because of the jailing of opposition leaders under Maduro. That would be a huge change for a continent where many countries, including neighbors Chile and Brazil, have left-leaning democratic governments that have maintained close ties with Venezuela. Judges on Saturday chose 42-year-old Mison Sere, citing his numerous missing front teeth and a wide range of grotesque facial expressions, over William Masvinu, who had held the title since 2012. Masvinu and his supporters mobbed the judges upon hearing their decision, claiming that Sere was “too handsome” to win and his ugliness wasn’t natural since it was based on missing teeth. “Do we have to lose our teeth to win? Perhaps he never counted on several super PACs raising significant sums to air spots reminding voters of what Vitter once called his “serious sin.” He probably also didn’t count on strong, effective attacks about prostitution coming from his Republican opponents and, in the runoff, from Edwards.

After Edwards ran a devastating spot in early November, suggesting that Vitter had missed a House vote in 2001 honoring fallen soldiers) while waiting on a call from a prostitute, the 2007 scandal was no longer old news. Vitter did not realize, until it was too late, that Louisiana voters have higher standards for who they elect as governor, compared to who they send to Washington. In retrospect, Vitter is undoubtedly wishing he had held a press conference early in 2015 and invited journalists to ask him (and, possibly, his wife) every possible question about his prostitution scandal. If Vitter had anticipated his opponents’ attacks, instead of looking at the race through the lens of 2010, he might have blunted or negated them early. Instead, by the time Vitter began running various apology spots late in the campaign, they only served to remind voters of questions he had never adequately addressed or answered.

How ironic that concerns about his character – eight years old and thoroughly vetted by voters in a major election – brought him down on Saturday night. It is either ironic, or perhaps profound poetic justice, that in badly misjudging his enemy, Vitter was destroyed by a West Point graduate – a man well schooled in the art of war.

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