He has served in prison, starred in a short-lived reality TV show and delivered enough quotable quips to fill a bookshelf in the public library.
Now, in his latest exhibition of life as political performance art, Edwin Edwards — former Louisiana governor, convicted racketeer, celebrated womanizer and, at age 86, new father — announced Monday he would be a candidate for
"I've given a great deal of thought to this ... and I acknowledge that there are good reasons why I should not run ... but there are better reasons why I should," Edwards told reporters in Baton Rouge, La. "I am positive I can run, and I am confident I can win."
When last seen on the national stage, Edwards was co-starring in "The Governor’s Wife," an
The former four-term Democratic governor served more than eight years in federal prison for fraud, racketeering and extortion in connection with the state's licensing of riverboat casinos. He left prison in 2011 and has steadily maintained his innocence — though he pointed out Monday that nothing in the Constitution prevents a convicted felon from being elected to Congress.
Part of a long line of populist, picaresque Louisiana governors, Edwards himself made a reference to his checkered past. "I haven't had this much attention since the trial," he told reporters in making his announcement.
He said improving accessibility to healthcare would be a centerpiece of his congressional campaign. He criticized the state’s Republican governor,
Edwards served three terms as a congressman before running for governor in 1971. He served two terms in the statehouse in the 1970s and, after a four-year break, was again elected in 1983. During that term, he was acquitted of federal corruption charges but his image was badly tainted. Still, he managed a comeback for a fourth term in 1991, beating
The congressional seat that Edwards is pursuing is being vacated by Republican
David Wasserman, who analyzes congressional races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, described Edward's candidacy as "more of a side show than a legitimate threat, particularly after redistricting cut out all the African American neighborhoods in Baton Rouge. ... A Republican will eventually win this seat."
Even if it is a sideshow, Edwards' campaign will presumably run longer than "The Governor's Wife." The reality series was canceled last fall after just three episodes.