Louisiana’s largest business lobby did not endorse one of the two major Republican candidates for governor in this year’s election--it is backing both.
The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry’s four regional political action committees voted to endorse both Congressman Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone in their bids to unseat Gov. John Bel Edwards, the incumbent Democrat.
Rispone, who co-founded an industrial construction firm, has previously served on the board of LABI. Lane Grigsby, a longtime GOP donor and key backer of Rispone’s run, is currently on the organization’s executive committee. Abraham, who represents north Louisiana in Congress, has led Rispone in polling in the race.
LABI, an influential group in state politics and government, is backing a slate of Republicans in the Oct. 12 primary elections, it said Wednesday, including every incumbent statewide office holder besides Edwards. It has also worked to recruit legislative candidates during an election cycle where dozens of seats will become open because of term limits.
“This year has the makings of a potentially historic election cycle, which is why the business leaders that make up our four regional PACs are aligned more than ever before,” LABI PAC director Bo Staples said in a statement.
The primary election is Oct. 12, when every candidate will appear on the same ballot. If no candidate wins more than 50%, the top two will advance to a Nov. 16 runoff.
Four years ago, LABI waited until after the primary election before endorsing David Vitter, whose prostitution scandal dogged him in his loss to Edwards. Afterwards, Stephen Waguespack, the head of LABI, wrote that the outcome proved “character matters” to voters. Waguespack formerly served as chief of staff to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Eric Holl, a spokesman for Gov. Edwards, said LABI is endorsing the governor's opponents "because they're promising to bring back Bobby Jindal's failed policies."
"LABI is run by Bobby Jindal's former chief of staff, and Gov. Edwards' opponents were two of Bobby Jindal's biggest supporters, even supporting his presidential campaign," Holl said. "Louisiana doesn't want to go back to Bobby Jindal."