Edwin Edwards, the four-term Democratic governor, convicted felon, former congressman, and 2014 congressional candidate, has only ever lost once.
Now that the Silver Fox is again a candidate, the only person to ever beat him in 26 elections, run-offs and primaries – is former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who beat Edwards for that position in 1987 and then lost to him four years later. And Roemer has some advice for the candidates running against Edwards in Louisiana’s 6th Congressional District: Do not count him out.
“You better work hard, man,” Roemer said, in a phone call with The Daily Caller. “He’s good. I mean, this guy’s good.”
The make-up of the district is not going to do Edwards any favors: it leans Republican, and observers expect voters to select a Republican representative. Still, Roemer said, treating Edwards as an unserious threat would be unwise.
“My advice would be to recognize that he is a master of Louisiana politics,” Roemer said “It’s not politics that I’m recommending to the rest of America; I’d like to make that clear. But here it’s hard ball.”
Roemer describes Edwards as a “very likeable fella – and I do like him” who “can charm the socks off a rooster,” although this reporter didn’t get the feeling that Roemer really likes him at all. He later describes their relationship as “friendly, but I don’t think we’re friends,” and says his entry into the race is “not the kind of branding that Louisiana needs, quite frankly, but it happens and we’ll just have to make the best of it.”
“He’s not to be dismissed in a race like this even though he basically comes straight from prison,” Roemer said. “He’s likeable and people like him. He’s a tough character to beat. In fact, in all of his political life, I’m the only person that ever beat him, in any race, ever. And that’s just amazing to me because his life has been filled with accusations and innuendos and misrepresentations and, you know, ‘you can tell I’m lying because my lips are moving’ sort of things. So he’s most unusual, a throwback, if you would, to times long ago.”
Edwards, he warned, “tends to intimidate others.”
“He’ll try to run over you. He’ll try to disparage his opponents because they’re too young and they’re too stupid or they’re too inexperienced, and you’ve gotta stand up to that. You’ve gotta say, ‘I don’t have all the experience that Gov. Edwards does. I’ve never been to jail.’ You’ve gotta come right back at him, you’ve gotta zing him, and stand up to him, and you’ve got to be there every day.
“To me he’s all mouth,” Roemer added.“I think if one them gets him head up they’ll beat him.”
But, Roemer said, Edwards has a lot going for him on the stump.
“He works hard in his politics, he’s very bright, he’s a gifted speaker, and that’s a portion of politics. In the past he’s raised money… So he’s gonna outspend you, he’s gonna be smarter politically than you,” Roemer said.
Roemer said Edwards was vulnerable on his record.
“You’ve gotta show them that you’re more conservative in spending money. I mean, Edwards as governor almost never balanced the budget. You’ve got to take his record and examine it and showcase it, you’ve gotta stand up to him, and then, at the end of the day, you’ve gotta convince the voter, that I, you, the opponent of Edwin Edwards, can do a better job for them,” he said
“He’ll skip over transparency, forthrightness, he’ll skip over financial acumen, and accuracy, he’ll skip over that cause he doesn’t have that at all,” Roemer said.
Roemer also had some advice for his one time rival: ask forgiveness for the corruption charges that sent him to jail, the corruption charges that Edwards fiercely maintains were trumped up.
People, Roemer said, forgive “all the time.”
“But my experience is that the person has to ask for forgiveness, and say, ‘I’ve made a mistake and it will not happen again.’ Edwards has never done that, he’s never confessed, he’s never admitted to an error, he’s never asked forgiveness. Now this race might give him a venue in which to do that. And frankly, I suspect that’s his only chance of winning,” he said.
Edwards does not shy away from talking about his time in prison — he addressed it at length in an interview with The Daily Caller earlier this week. But in Roemer’s opinion, he does not address it in the way it needs to be addressed.
“He’s funny. He makes fun of himself, you know, whether it be prison food or waiting in line or not having the reading light that he needs, and people like that. But he never says, ‘I hate what happened, I made a mistake, it’ll never happen again.’ He never goes that far,” Roemer said. “He uses it, he admits it, but he makes fun of it.”
Roemer, who lives and votes in the 6th District, says he will not be voting for his one-time rival.
“I think we can do better,” he said.
“I think he’s used his talents, and he has many of them, for all the wrong reasons: personal gain, personal wealth. It’s sad to be that gifted and that far astray — that’s my opinion talking.”
Asked if he might get involved in the race at all, and give the world a Roemer/Edwards rematch, Roemer demurred.
“I hope not,” he declared. “Lord have mercy.”