CNN projects LA Gov. John Bel Edwards in runoff

Democratic governor in the deep South on the verge of reelection
Edwards campaign via CNN

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has been forced into a runoff election in his bid for reelection, where he will face Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, CNN projected Saturday.

Edwards was the top vote getter but will fall short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid the runoff. Rispone, one of two major Republicans in the race, garnered the second biggest amount of votes.

Edwards is the only statewide elected Democrat in Louisiana. Despite Louisiana’s Republican lean, polling and other factors suggested Edwards had a decent shot of being reelected.

He faced off against opponents from both political parties in Saturday’s gubernatorial primary, in which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, ran against each other.

President Donald Trump on Friday went to Louisiana — a state he won by 20 points in 2016 — to boost two Republican candidates in the race. Both Republican candidates — Rispone and Rep. Ralph Abraham — joined Trump onstage during the rally. Trump didn’t endorse one Republican over the other.

Trump spent time at his rally in the state trashing Edwards and encouraged his supporters to vote for either Republican in a bid to keep Edwards below the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff election.

Edwards won office back in 2015 on somewhat of a fluke. Polling showed him only clearly beating one Republican in a runoff, scandal-ridden David Vitter, and Vitter was the Republican who managed to secure a runoff spot alongside Edwards. Edwards was helped by then-Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal driving up the state budget deficit and providing the political environment for Edwards to win.

CNN’s Harry Enten contributed to this report.