Congressman Ralph Abraham is attempting to unseat incumbent Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards this fall. Unfortunately for Abraham, questions continue to swirl regarding his viability as a candidate. Unless he’s able to flip the narrative soon, his candidacy might never make it far off the ground.
The first few months of his campaign have been robust with controversy. Abraham has come under fire for missing numerous important votes to attend his own political fundraisers. He’s also been criticized for breaking a campaign pledge he made in 2014 to not take a congressional salary.
Abraham has his work cut out for him when it comes to funding a serious campaign as well, and recent campaign finance reports show he lags far behind his opponents. His report shows he has $350,000 in the bank, a mere drop in the bucket compared to fellow Republican Eddie Rispone’s $5.5 million and Governor Edwards’ $8.4 million.
To add insult to injury, Abraham will be tasked with convincing Trump supporters in Louisiana he is fully behind the President. If a Republican is able to defeat Governor Edwards, they will need to energize Trump’s base. Trump received 58.1% of the vote in the Louisiana general election in 2016.
The question becomes, will the President and his supporters be willing to ignore Abraham’s #NeverTrump stance during the 2016 campaign? Not only did Congressman Abraham fail to support Trump, he spoke out against him and went as far as to suggest Trump should drop out of the race.
He told The Advocate, “Donald Trump’s comments are offensive and indefensible. I would never want my daughters or granddaughters spoken about or treated in that way. He was right to apologize for his remarks, but at this point, he should strongly consider his path going forward. Hillary Clinton has proven over her 30 year political career of destructive policies and poor judgment that she is unfit for the White House. She cannot be allowed to win the presidency, so Mr. Trump should consider whether he needs to step aside and allow Gov. Pence to lead our party to victory in November.”
It would have been understandable for Abraham to disagree and speak out against Trump’s comments, but he didn’t stop there. Publicly calling on him to drop out of the race helped Hillary Clinton. And although his attitude toward the President has been more positive during the course of his campaign, it begs the question whether he is truly a supporter or is only using Trump to benefit the advancement of his career.
The logical alternative for Trump Republicans is the other announced candidate, Eddie Rispone. Like President Trump, Rispone is an outsider businessman who is largely self-funding his campaign. He regularly praises Trump and his policies. After the State of the Union address Rispone said, “I’m proud of President Trump for standing his ground last night on tough issues in the face of partisan politics. The President is committed to growing our economy, protecting the unborn, securing our borders, and fighting socialism. That is why I was and continue to be one of his biggest supporters in Louisiana.”
Republicans in Louisiana understand that uniting behind a viable candidate who is able to energize the Trump contingent will be critical in 2019. They can’t afford division and infighting as we approach October. Ralph Abraham is running out of time to convince the GOP he has what it takes to win.