John Bel Edwards

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John Bel Edwards
John Bel Edwards Wikipedia Photo fl h.jpg
Governor-elect of Louisiana
Taking office
January 11, 2016
Lieutenant Billy Nungesser (Elect)
Succeeding Bobby Jindal
Minority Leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives
Assumed office
January 9, 2012
Preceded by Jane Smith
Succeeded by TBD
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 72nd district
Assumed office
December 2008
Preceded by Robby Carter
Succeeded by TBD
Personal details
Born (1966-09-16) September 16, 1966 (age 49)
Amite, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Donna Hutto
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1988–1996
Unit 25th Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division

John Bel Edwards (born September 16, 1966) is an American attorney and Democratic Party politician who is the Governor-elect of Louisiana. He is a United States Army veteran, having served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He is the Minority Leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives, having represented the 72nd District since 2008. Edwards left the legislature to run for Governor in the 2015 election. He defeated Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter in the November 21 general election, becoming the first Democrat to win a statewide election in Louisiana since 2008, when Mary Landrieu won her third term in the United States Senate.

Early life and career[edit]

Edwards was born and raised in Amite, Louisiana, the son of Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Frank M. Edwards, Jr., a member of the administration of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards (no relation).[1] John Bel Edwards graduated from Amite High School in 1984 as valedictorian.[1] In 1988, Edwards received a bachelor's degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy, where he was on the Dean's List and served as vice chairman of the panel that enforced the West Point honor code.[1]

Edwards completed Airborne School in 1986, while he was a student at West Point. After receiving his commission he completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning (1988), Ranger School (1989), and the Infantry Officer Advanced Course (1992).

Edwards served in the Army for eight years, primarily in the 25th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division, including command of a company in the 82nd's 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He ended his military career in order to return to Louisiana because of family considerations.[1]

Edwards earned a law degree from the Louisiana State University's Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1999. He is a practicing attorney with the Edwards & Associates Law Firm in Amite.[2] As an attorney, Edwards handles a variety of cases, although he does not practice criminal law due to his brother's status as the local sheriff.[1]

Legislative career[edit]

In 2008, Edwards ran for a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Edwards was forced into a general election run-off with fellow trial lawyer George Tucker.[3] Edwards was overwhelmingly elected, winning every parish in the district.[4] Edwards was the only freshman lawmaker to chair a committee in the legislature. Edwards chairs the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House. Edwards was also selected as chairman of the Democratic house caucus, a rarity for a freshman legislator. Edwards became a critic of Governor Bobby Jindal for the governor's frequent trips away from Louisiana to raise political funds for Republicans elsewhere while Louisiana has been reducing its funding for higher education.

In 2011, Edwards was re-elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, having defeated opponent Johnny Duncan, 83 to 17 percent.[5] Edwards declined to challenge Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in the 2011 gubernatorial election.[6] Edwards serves as chairman of the Louisiana House Democratic Caucus, making him the Louisiana House Minority Leader.[7] Cities/towns that Edwards represents include Amite, Greensburg, and Kentwood as well as part of Hammond.

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

On February 21, 2013, Edwards announced that he would run for governor in 2015. He said that his state needs "a healthy dose of common sense and compassion for ordinary people".[8] The only major Democrat in the race, Edwards polled first in the nonpartisan blanket primary with 444,517 votes (39.9 percent), followed by Vitter, who finished second with 256,300 votes (23 percent). In third place was Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle of Breaux Bridge, who received 214,982 votes (19.3 percent).[9]

On November 5, 2015, Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge, the outgoing Republican lieutenant governor, who placed fourth in the gubernatorial primary election with 166,656 (15 percent),[9] endorsed Democrat Edwards in the forthcoming race against Senator Vitter. Dardenne made his announcement at "Free Speech Alley" in front of the LSU Student Union building in Baton Rouge.[10]

Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association entered the Louisiana campaign in support of Vitter with an advertisement highlighting Edwards' past support for U.S. President Barack Obama, who twice lost Louisiana's electoral votes. Edwards was a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[11]

A statewide poll prior to the primary showed Edwards with a nine-point lead over Vitter. The JMC Analytics survey placed Edwards at 28 percent, instead of the actual 40 percent, and Vitter with 19 percent, rather than his actual 23 percent.[12] After the primary polls showed Edwards with a commanding lead. Market Research Insight pollster Verne Kennedy placed Edwards ahead, 54 to 38 percent or 51 to 40 percent, depending on the level of turnout among African-American voters, 25 or 20 percent.[13]

In the runoff on November 21, 2015, Edwards received more than 56 percent of all ballots cast to defeat Vitter.[14]

Personal life and family[edit]

Edwards and his wife, Donna Hutto Edwards, have two daughters (Sarah Edwards and Samantha Edwards) and one son (John Miller Edwards). John Bel Edwards is a regular parishioner of Saint Helena Roman Catholic Church in Amite.[15] Edwards is the brother of Independence, Louisiana chief of police Frank Millard Edwards, as well as Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel H. Edwards. Edwards is brother-in-law to 21st Judicial District Court Juvenile Judge Blair Downing Edwards, a Republican. In 2014, Edwards and other members of his Tangipahoa Parish political family were inducted as a group into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.


  1. ^ a b c d e Sentell, Will (September 22, 2015). "Democratic State Representative John Bel Edwards". The New Orleans World Advocate. Retrieved September 30, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Edwards & Assoc Law Firm Amite, LA, 70422 -". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "George R Tucker: Hammond, LA Lawyer, Lawyer, Attorney, Attorneys". Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ David, Brennan (November 18, 2007). "John Bel Edwards claims strong win". Hammond Daily Star. Retrieved February 5, 2009. 
  5. ^ Edwards, John Bel (October 23, 2010). "AWOL Jindal: Guv galavants while Louisiana languishes". Daily Star (Hammond, Louisiana). p. 5A. 
  6. ^ Millhollon, Michelle (November 14, 2010). "Any challengers?". Advocate (Baton Rouge). pp. 1A, 6A. Retrieved November 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Louisiana House of Representatives - Internet Portal". September 1, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ Adelson, Jeff (February 10, 2013). "John Bel Edwards announces he is running for governor in 2015". The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  10. ^ Greg Hilburn (November 5, 2015). "Republican Dardenne endorses Democrat Edwards". The Shreveport Times. 
  11. ^ Elizabeth Crisp (October 9, 2015). "Republican governors group weighs in on Louisiana governor’s race with ad targeting John Bel Edwards". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Poll: Edwards has nine point lead over Vitter in LA governor's race". October 5, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Three polls show John Bel Edwards leading David Vitter in stunning turn of events surrounding governor's race". The Baton Rouge Advocate. November 3, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  14. ^ "John Bel Edwards beats David Vitter to become Louisiana's next governor". The Times-Picayune. November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  15. ^ Amite, seat of Tangipahoa Parish, was originally in that part of the church parish of Saint Helena which in 1869 was carved out of Saint Helena Parish to form the civil parish of Tangipahoa.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tara Hollis
Democratic nominee for Governor of Louisiana
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bobby Jindal
Governor of Louisiana
Taking office
January 11, 2016