SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — The third and final primary debate in the Louisiana gubernatorial race is now in the history books, having given voters their last look at the three candidates together.
They are incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the two leading Republican challengers, Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone and Congressman Ralph Abraham, of Northeast Louisiana.
This debate took place in Shreveport at KSLA News 12′s studio and was broadcast throughout the state by Gray Television stations.
The very first question of this final gubernatorial debate went to panelist Jenifer Andrews, with KNOE-TV in Monroe, who asked Edwards about the big topic in the race, at least in the past few weeks:
“You appointed Johnny Anderson to deputy chief of staff while aware of documented allegations of sexual harassment in his past and spent $100,000 of taxpayer money to handle a recent sexual harassment allegation to settle a claim. What about Mr. Anderson made you want to hire him?”
“In the decade before he, I hired him, he actually was cleared of allegations. And before I took office, I received recommendations from all over the state of Louisiana,” Edwards began.
“When the complaint came forward and came to light, he was discharged within hours.”
Some of the more telling moments of the debate came when the candidates asked questions of each other.
That started with Edwards, who directed his question at Abraham.
“You’ve missed more votes than any other member of Congress. And that’s a hard thing to do because there are 435 members of the House. ... How can the people of Louisiana trust you to ever be their governor?”
Abraham, who represents Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District, was quick to answer.
"There was a 're-auth' the other day. Yeah, we missed the vote. But, we know, I know, how important it is to unseat you from that seat. And I will miss a few more votes in order to do that."
Then it was Rispone who directed his question at Abraham.
“When he ran for Congress the last time, he said he would not take his salary and he would donate his salary to charity. Were you ever intending to keep your promise? Or was that just a political ploy to get elected?”
Abraham: “Eddie, you know that’s a lie. I donated my salary. I still donate it. And Diane and I will give six figures to charity this year.”
Abraham then had an opportunity to ask Rispone about his on-and-off support for the controversial education curriculum known as Common Core.
"You say now you're against Common Core. Do you, what do you tell the voters? You gonna change your mind on all these issues when they become political?"
Rispone responded, “Common Core was brought to us by the educators and said this is a way of raising standards. And then we found out later that Obama took a hold of it and shamefully tried to take it over and take over our schools.”
With stark differences between these three on everything from taxes to TOPS, it’ll be the voters who begin to sort this all out in Louisiana’s primary election Saturday, Oct. 12.