(Nov. 5) With Louisiana’s gubernatorial election less than two weeks away, what had been a rather boring campaign has suddenly veered into the gutter. The desperate, late plays of the “race card” are a disgrace, and all parties involved should be ashamed.

What’s particularly disturbing is that the Louisiana Republican Party itself is openly in the gutter. Even if it didn’t start the filthy politics, its embrace of the filth is inexcusable.

Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards, usually described as a relatively moderate Democrat, is in a tight reelection race against Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who has promoted himself as a Trump-like outsider who will jump-start a state that still ranks low or last in numerous measures of civic health. Polls show a very tight race for the Nov. 16 election, with Edwards perhaps slightly in the lead, but he has reason to fear, given his failure to reach 50% in the first round of voting last month.

Conventional wisdom says that Edwards can’t win without a strong turnout among black voters, and conventional wisdom also says that black voters tend not to turn out heavily in oddly timed Louisiana runoff elections. To avoid such a result, the head of one of the old traditional black voter organizations in New Orleans, known by the acronym BOLD, decided to jack up emotion in his community by baselessly smearing Rispone.

With absolutely no evidence of any current or prior racial animus on Rispone’s part, BOLD ran radio ads raising the sheeted specter of former KKK leader and onetime Louisiana political force David Duke.

“What is the difference between David Duke, Eddie Rispone, and Donald Trump?” asked New Orleans city councilman Jay Banks in the ad. “The only difference is that Eddie Rispone will be governor if you do not stop him.”

This attack is beyond disgusting. Before this, this had been a snippy but relatively clean campaign, free of racial ugliness. With its shameful ad equating Rispone with a notorious neo-Nazi, BOLD has thrown a massive, hugely divisive stink bomb into the fray.

Alas, it only gets worse from there. Rispone and the Republican Party could have taken the high road, showing black voters they have nothing to fear, while, if they wanted to, trying to inspire a backlash in their favor, among all voters, against BOLD’s vile tactics.

But no, not today’s Republican Party. Rather than trying to win by outworking or outclassing opponents who are in the gutter, the state GOP dove into the same gutter with gusto….

[Read the rest of this column here.]


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