What On God’s Green Earth Is John Bel Edwards Doing In Puerto Rico?

This looks a bit like a political trip to us. Is Edwards, whose performance when South Louisiana and the Baton Rouge area in particular was inundated by a three-day deluge in August of 2016 left a whole lot to be desired, trying to advise the Puerto Ricans how to rebuild their island?

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards arrived in Puerto Rico Monday morning.

Edwards will travel with First Lady Donna Edwards and ajor General Glenn Curtis, Adjutant General for the Louisiana National Guard, and Col. James Waskom, Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Louisiana National Guard soldiers are currently in Puerto Rico still assisting with recovery efforts.

“Louisiana has far too much experience with disaster management, and Mother Nature  has caused unimaginable harm in Puerto Rico,” said Gov. Edwards.  “I am happy that Louisiana has been able to provide assistance as survivors recover, much like the assistance we’ve relied on in the aftermath of disasters  I know they have a long road ahead of them, but I’ve assured Gov. Rosselló that we will be partners with them as they move into the recovery phase.  I am looking forward to this being a productive visit for Donna and me, and I hope we can provide some insight into the recovery and rebuilding process using the lessons we’ve learned in Louisiana.”

Puerto Rico is even more broke than Louisiana is, so let’s hope Edwards’ prescriptions – miss the boat on creative ways to leverage recovery dollars, focus your efforts on paying off your core voters who were flooded to the exclusion of the rest, make a mess of the program management contract for flood recovery, take so long to stand up a recovery program that most of its intended recipients give up on trying to secure aid dollars and go their own way, and take credit for the work of volunteers like the Cajun Navy – isn’t what Rossello and the Puerto Ricans attempt.

But one wonders about this trip. Edwards has a very, very high opinion of himself and his performance as governor, and he keeps doing things which can be billed as evidence he’s seeking a high profile. He’s a Democrat governor in the South, which makes him an outlier and gives his people visions of something special as a national commodity. You keep seeing Edwards jump in and join this “bipartisan” group of governors led by John Kasich and John Hickenlooper to push for the preservation of Obamacare.

Does it add up to Edwards trying to run for president as a Democrat in 2020?

One would think he has rocks in his head if that’s what he’s doing. Not only is Louisiana something of a political graveyard for wannabe presidential hopefuls (ask Buddy Roemer and Bobby Jindal if you don’t agree) but the state’s voters have a way of really turning on a politician who’s seen to abandon Louisianans in favor of the national scene – that was the active reason why Jindal went from an approval rating in the 70’s to one in the 20’s. Seeing as though Edwards’ current high-50’s approval rating is almost assuredly going to drop amid the state’s continuing budget woes and his insistence on more taxes to plug the hole, not to mention Louisiana’s increasing difficulties in competing with Texas and other neighbors economically, if he’s seen as taking his eye off the ball he could very well be the Jindal of the Democrats’ 2020 field.

And then there is the fact Mitch Landrieu, the silly soon-to-be-ex-mayor of New Orleans, is attempting to make himself a 2020 candidate. Landrieu and Edwards don’t get along to begin with; if they’re competing candidates fighting for the same space as the Southern Democrat With A Chance At A Crossover Appeal, look for that to get exceptionally nasty.

But if Edwards wants to run for president in 2020, it pretty much means he doesn’t run for governor again in 2019. You can’t raise money for both at the same time, which is more or less what he’d have to do. That would put Louisiana’s Democrats in a major hole, as they don’t have a bench.

The guess here is no, there is no Edwards For President campaign in the offing. But there also isn’t any good reason for Edwards to be taking junkets to see hurricane damage, either. Especially when there are still lots of flooded properties here in the Sportsman’s Paradise.

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