Did you hear? Edwin Edwards is running for Congress. That’s a joke. I know you’ve heard about it. But, before I get to that:
About 18 months ago, my wife and I had just walked out of Cracker Barrel restaurant in Gonzales and were heading to our car when a familiar face was headed our way.
He was an older guy, dressed casually and walking slowly with a much younger-looking woman. As the man got closer, it dawned on me who he was.
It was Edwards, the former governor of Louisiana several times over and the true definition of scandal.
He looked much older than himself. You know what I mean. He didn’t look like that the dapper guy of pre-eight years in federal prison. He looked, well, old.
“Hello, how are you doing governor?” I asked warmly. He studied me for a second or two. His political computer brain starting digging through photo files trying to match my face to the dozens of African-American politicians and the hundreds of black voters he had befriended over a lifetime of handshaking and backslapping.
When my file didn’t show up, he gave me a quick, “Hello, how are you?” and on he went with his wife, Trina. Well, my wife and I instantly found it interesting that a man who was once the king of Louisiana would be buttering his grits just like us.
I never thought this guy would ever rear his head into the political game again, even though I kept hearing friends say, “If he ran, I’d vote for him.” I’m not that automatic, unless he was in a runoff with David Duke again.
But earlier this week, Edwards put on a good-looking suit and tie, stepped up to the microphone and announced that he will be running in the congressional 6th District, which has lines that were carefully redrawn a while back to make it virtually Democrat-proof.
Since his announcement, there has been this gnashing of teeth about what a disgrace it is that an ex-con is running, blah, blah, blah. There has been wailing in the streets and threats of plague of national political pundits descending on Louisiana. And, get this: Louisiana will be embarrassed by his effort. Really?
Wait. Louisiana is the place where the aforementioned Republican Duke, a former grand potentate of an American terrorist group, the Ku Klux Klan, was voted into the state House. He also captured more white votes than Edwards did when Edwards beat him in the 1991 gubernatorial race.
Look, with Edwards, folks can put on their Sansabelt slacks and spray their big hair, dream about the past and head to the polls to vote for the 86-year-old.
The thing about elections, even in Louisiana, is you have the choice not to vote for someone. I’m not a big supporter of Edwards. Oh, yes, I said it. And there are more like me.
I think it will be interesting to see how he holds up to the withering questions in a political debate. The odd thing is, the media, some of whom opine about how bad it is that he has returned to the political scene, will trip over themselves to interview him.
Watch how many of them say, “Exclusive interview with former Gov. Edwin Edwards.”
Wait, I think I have seen a few of those already. Even this prestigious newspaper was taking a poll, asking readers, “Will you vote for Gov. Edwin Edwards?”
Who knows? His charm with older black Democratic voters could actually help Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu in her battle to keep her U.S. Senate seat.
Do I expect anything special or nuanced about him and his rhetoric in 2014? I certainly do not. But, I believe he has every right to run and to run to win. For any number of reasons, he is not my cup of tea. But if by chance he gets in a runoff against someone I really don’t like, then Edwards may get a second look.
Edward Pratt, a former Advocate editor, is assistant chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.