Edwards shaking hands with Treen following a TV interview from December 19th, 1971
During the general election campaign set for February 1st, 1972, Edwards faced off against David C. Treen (R), then of Metairie. He did not run as the candidate who would continue the policies of his predecessor, outgoing Governor John McKeithen (D), for whom Edwards had been a State Senate floor leader. Instead, Edwards aggressively derided McKeithen as a "lame-duck governor who doesn't want the new administration to do well. It'll make him look bad," considering a $30 million budget shortfall facing the next Governor. Throughout the campaign, Edwards repeatedly insisted that Treen had no chance of victory. He said the climate was not right for a GOP governor in LA. He ridiculed Treen as having "never held a public office. He has run for office four times & has been defeated all four times. He can't even generate enough enthusiasm in his home district (Jefferson Parish), where he is best known." He accused Treen of having adopted Edwards' own reform platform characterized as the "Era of Excellence."
For his part, Treen campaigned vigorously with billboards which said, "Make a Real Change," & television spots, but he was facing an uphill battle throughout the entire general election campaign. However, his chances seem to improve somewhat when the American Party nominee, Hall Lyons of Lafayette, withdrew after Edwards predicted victory based on the premise that Lyons & Treen would split the more conservative vote. Lyons said that his decision to leave the gubernatorial contest was intended to allow conservatives to unite behind Treen. Edwards responded by scoffing at his challenger even further: "If Treen had been a registered Democrat in the November 6th Democratic primary, he'd have gotten lost in the shuffle. Yet, while his only claim of any kind of legitimacy is that he's a Republican, he deliberately avoids the use of the word 'Republican' on any of his campaign paraphernalia. He's apparently ashamed of the fact that he's a Republican."
Frank Spooner, an energy entrepreneur from Monroe, was the Ouachita Parish chair for Treen's gubernatorial campaign.
Edwards picked up the enthusiastic backing of his rival, J. Bennett Johnston, who went on to become a United States Senator (more on that later in the TL). One of Edwards' campaign strategists, Charles E. Roemer, II of Bossier City, would go onto be appointed as the full-time commissioner of administration, a position that Roemer retained from 1972 to 1980. Roemer's son, Buddy Roemer, would serve as Governor from 1988 to 1992, sandwiched between Edwards' 3rd & 4th terms.
Bill Dodd, who was defeated for State Superintendent of Education in the same election cycle that Edwards was winning the governorship for the first time, attributed the Edwards victory in part to political kingmaker Louis J. Roussel, Jr., of New Orleans. According to Dodd, Roussel "can do more than any other individual in LA to elect any candidate he supports for any office in this state...... He is such a good administrator & motivator that he can put together an organization that will win in business & in politics."
Post by 49ersfootball on Oct 13, 2020 18:28:51 GMT
BREAKING: US REP. EDWIN EDWARDS (D-LA) ELECTED LA'S 50TH GOVERNOR
ASSOCIATED PRESS PROJECTS
8:56 PM CST, Tuesday, February 1st, 1972
New Orleans, LA
US Rep. Edwin Edwards (D-LA) flanked by supporters in New Orleans on Election Night
as returns kept pouring in from across the Pelican State.
The returns were coming in from all across the Pelican State, it was obvious to everyone that Congressman Edwards' lead in polling surveys & the early voting numbers coming in as well as the Election Day numbers was too much for David Treen (R) to overcome. At close to 8:00 PM CST: Treen called to concede the 1971 Gubernatorial Election. Once he was done speaking with Edwards over the phone, Treen went downstairs to address his supporters: informing them he conceded the election, thanked everyone for getting involved in the democratic process & pledging they wouldn't see the last of him in the coming years. Watching from his hotel room in New Orleans, Congressman Edwards was greeted by members of the LA State Police, who would be his security detail for the next 4 years coming up (Inauguration Day was set for May 9th, 1972).
Edwards & his family came all the way down to the ballroom to address jubilant supporters, who were chanting "WE WANT EDWARDS! WE WANT EDWARDS! WE WANT EDWARDS!". Finally, Edwin Washington Edwards had accomplished his lifelong, childhood dream: becoming Governor of the Pelican State & let's just say things wouldn't ever be the same again....
Treen & his wife, Dodi in a personal moment HRS after conceding the 1971 Gubernatorial election.
(LA Governor: OPEN) 100% of the Precincts reporting
US Rep. Edwin W. Edwards (D-LA): 641,146 (57.2%): Declared Winner