Ex-Con Ex-Governor Running for Congress
You're wrong if you think politics couldn't get saucier in Louisiana, where the ex-Democratic mayor of New Orleans was just convicted for bribery and the religious-right-supporting senator who got caught with hookers is a favorite to win the governorship: Edwin Edwards, the most colorful Louisiana politician since Huey Long, is running for Congress.
"I'm just figuring out all the legalities and how to set up a super PAC, and then I'm going," Edwards said in a telephone interview today. He is running in Louisiana's 6th Congressional District, where the Republican incumbent, Representative Bill Cassidy, is vacating his seat to run for the U.S. Senate.
Edwards acknowledged he faces obstacles -- he is 86 and spent eight years in a federal penitentiary after a conviction for racketeering.
But Edwards insisted, "I'm the only hope the Democrats have here." Voters who wouldn't support him because of his criminal background, he added, "wouldn't have voted for me anyway."
As for the age issue, Edwards said: "I hope that's all they talk about." There are currently 11 members of Congress who are 80 or older.
Edwards is the longest-serving governor in the state's history. He was elected four times. Judging by total votes, he is the most popular Democrat in modern Louisiana history.
He is also a free-wheeling, fun-loving, self-described "corner-cutting" politician who seems to relish his controversies. In one of his trials, the sequestered jury was accused of stealing towels from the hotel they were in. Edwards concluded that he was truly judged by a jury of his peers.
Edwards has always been a champion of civil rights in Louisiana and was immensely popular in the state's black community.
In the interview, he said that he's seen private polls showing he would easily qualify for a run-off between the race's two top finishers.
Edwards said his 40 years of experience qualifies him for Congress. "They need people there who know how to get things done."
(Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.)
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