John Bel Edwards

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John Bel Edwards
File:John Bel Edwards Wikipedia Photo fl h.jpg
56th Governor of Louisiana
Assumed office
January 11, 2016
Lieutenant Billy Nungesser
Preceded by Bobby Jindal
Minority Leader of the
Louisiana House of Representatives
In office
January 9, 2012 – December 10, 2015
Preceded by Jane Smith
Succeeded by Gene Reynolds
Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
from the 72nd district
In office
January 14, 2008 – December 10, 2015
Preceded by Robby Carter
Succeeded by Robby Carter
Personal details
Born (1966-09-16) September 16, 1966 (age 53)
Amite, Louisiana, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Donna Hutto
Children 3
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1988–1996
Unit 25th Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division

John Bel Edwards (born September 16, 1966) is an American attorney and politician who is the 56th and current Governor of Louisiana, having assumed office on January 11, 2016. He is a United States Army veteran, having served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was formerly the Minority Leader of the Louisiana House of Representatives, when he represented the 72nd District for two terms. He left the state legislature to run for governor in 2015. A Democrat, he defeated Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter in the second round of the 2015 election.

Early life and career

Edwards was born and reared in Amite, Louisiana, the son of Dora Jean (Miller) and Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Frank M. Edwards, Jr., a member of the administration of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards (no relation).[1][2] John graduated from Amite High School in 1984 as valedictorian.[1] In 1988, Edwards received a bachelor's degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy, where he was on the Dean's List and served as vice chairman of the panel that enforced the West Point honor code.[1]

Edwards completed Airborne School in 1986, while he was a student at West Point. After receiving his commission he completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Fort Benning (1988), Ranger School (1989), and the Infantry Officer Advanced Course (1992).

Edwards served in the Army for eight years, primarily in the 25th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division, including command of a company in the 82nd's 3rd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He ended his military career in order to return to Louisiana because of family considerations.[1]

Edwards earned a law degree from the Louisiana State University's Paul M. Hebert Law Center in 1999. He is a practicing attorney with the Edwards & Associates Law Firm in Amite.[3] As an attorney, Edwards handles a variety of cases, although he does not practice criminal law due to his brother's status as the local sheriff.[1]

Legislative career

In 2008, Edwards ran for a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Edwards was forced into a general election run-off with fellow trial lawyer George Tucker.[4] Edwards was overwhelmingly elected, winning every parish in the district.[5] Edwards was the only freshman lawmaker to chair a committee in the legislature. Edwards chaired the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House. Edwards was also selected as chairman of the Democratic house caucus, a rarity for a freshman legislator. Edwards became a critic of Governor Bobby Jindal for the governor's frequent trips away from Louisiana to raise political funds for Republicans elsewhere while Louisiana has been reducing its funding for higher education.

In 2011, Edwards was re-elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives, having defeated opponent Johnny Duncan, 83 to 17 percent.[6] Edwards declined to challenge Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in the 2011 gubernatorial election.[7] Edwards served as chairman of the Louisiana House Democratic Caucus, making him the Louisiana House Minority Leader.[8] Cities/towns that Edwards represented included Amite, Greensburg, and Kentwood as well as part of Hammond.

Gubernatorial campaign

On February 21, 2013, Edwards announced that he would run for governor in 2015. He said that his state needs "a healthy dose of common sense and compassion for ordinary people".[9] The only major Democrat in the race, Edwards polled first in the nonpartisan blanket primary with 444,517 votes (39.9 percent), followed by Vitter, who finished second with 256,300 votes (23 percent). In third place was Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle of Breaux Bridge, who received 214,982 votes (19.3 percent).[10]

John Bel Edwards and his wife, Donna Hutto Edwards, at a fundraising event in 2015.

On November 5, 2015, Jay Dardenne of Baton Rouge, the outgoing Republican lieutenant governor, who placed fourth in the gubernatorial primary election with 166,656 (15 percent),[10] endorsed Democrat Edwards in the forthcoming race against Senator Vitter. Dardenne made his announcement at "Free Speech Alley" in front of the LSU Student Union building in Baton Rouge.[11]

Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association entered the Louisiana campaign in support of Vitter with an advertisement highlighting Edwards' past support for U.S. President Barack H. Obama, who twice lost Louisiana's electoral votes. Edwards was a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[12] Edwards supports Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

A statewide poll prior to the primary showed Edwards with a nine-point lead over Vitter. The JMC Analytics survey placed Edwards at 28 percent, instead of the actual 40 percent, and Vitter with 19 percent, rather than his actual 23 percent.[13] After the primary polls showed Edwards with a commanding lead. Market Research Insight pollster Verne Kennedy placed Edwards ahead, 54 to 38 percent or 51 to 40 percent, depending on the level of turnout among African-American voters, 25 or 20 percent.[14]

In the runoff on November 21, 2015, Edwards won the election with 56.1 percent of the vote.[15]

Governor of Louisiana (2016–present)

On his inauguration day, Edwards failed to persuade the majority-Republican Louisiana House to choose a Democrat, Walt Leger III of New Orleans, as the Speaker. On the second ballot, after Republican Cameron Henry, an ally of Senator David Vitter, withdrew from consideration, a second Republican, Taylor Barras of New Iberia, was named Speaker. Since Huey Long, governors had traditionally handpicked the state house speakers. The Barras selection was considered a surprise because he had not even been mentioned as a candidate until the voting started.[16]

On April 13, 2016, Edwards signed an executive order to protect transgender people from harassment or job dismissals. The order also covers homosexuals and prohibits state agencies from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The order allows an exception for religious organizations who claim that compliance would violate their religious beliefs. "We respect our fellow citizens for their beliefs, but we do not discriminate based on our disagreements. I believe in giving every Louisianan the opportunity to be successful and to thrive in our state," Edwards said.[17]

The governor also rescinded another executive order issued in 2015 by his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, which protected businesses and nonprofit organizations who oppose same-sex marriage from being legally punished for holding those views. This order had prohibited state agencies from penalizing businesses and individuals who act from a “religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman."[17]

Cabinet and administration

Seal of Louisiana.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Edwards Cabinet[18][19]
Governor John Bel Edwards 2016–present
Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne 2016–present
Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities, Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority Board Chairman Johnny Bradberry 2016–present
Secretary of Economic Development Don Pierson 2016–present
Secretary of Environmental Quality Dr. Chuck Brown 2016–present
Director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Jim Waskom 2016–present
Secretary of Health and Hospitals Rebekah E. Gee 2016–present
Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission Ava Dejoie 2016–present
Secretary of Public Safety and Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc 2008–present
Secretary of Revenue Kimberly Lewis Robinson 2016–present
Secretary of Transportation and Development Dr. Shawn Wilson 2016–present
Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police Colonel Michael Edmonson 2008–present
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Joey Strickland 2016–present
Secretary of Wildlife and Fisheries Charlie Melancon 2016–present
Secretary of Natural Resources Thomas Harris 2016–present
Secretary of Children and Family Services Marketa Garner Walters 2016–present

Personal life and family

Edwards and his wife, the forme Donna Hutto (born February 1967), have two daughters, Sarah and Samantha Edwards and one son, John Miller Edwards. John Bel Edwards is a regular parishioner of the St. Helena Roman Catholic Church in Amite.[20] Edwards is the brother of Independence, Louisiana chief of police Frank Millard Edwards, as well as Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel H. Edwards. Edwards is brother-in-law to 21st Judicial District Court Juvenile Judge Blair Downing Edwards, a Republican. In 2014, Edwards and other members of his Tangipahoa Parish political family were inducted as a group into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Sentell, Will (September 22, 2015). "Democratic State Representative John Bel Edwards". The New Orleans World Advocate. Retrieved September 30, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Edwards & Assoc Law Firm Amite, LA, 70422 -". Retrieved November 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "George R Tucker: Hammond, LA Lawyer, Lawyer, Attorney, Attorneys". Retrieved November 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. David, Brennan (November 18, 2007). "John Bel Edwards claims strong win". Hammond Daily Star. Retrieved February 5, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Edwards, John Bel (October 23, 2010). "AWOL Jindal: Guv galavants while Louisiana languishes". Daily Star. Hammond, Louisiana. p. 5A.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Millhollon, Michelle (November 14, 2010). "Any challengers?". Advocate. Baton Rouge. pp. 1A, 6A. Retrieved November 14, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Louisiana House of Representatives - Internet Portal". September 1, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Adelson, Jeff (February 10, 2013). "John Bel Edwards announces he is running for governor in 2015". The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved February 21, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Results for Election Date: 10/24/2015". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Greg Hilburn (November 5, 2015). "Republican Dardenne endorses Democrat Edwards". The Shreveport Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Elizabeth Crisp (October 9, 2015). "Republican governors group weighs in on Louisiana governor's race with ad targeting John Bel Edwards". The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved November 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Poll: Edwards has nine point lead over Vitter in LA governor's race". October 5, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Three polls show John Bel Edwards leading David Vitter in stunning turn of events surrounding governor's race". The Baton Rouge Advocate. November 3, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "John Bel Edwards beats David Vitter to become Louisiana's next governor". The Times-Picayune. November 21, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Jack Davis (April 13, 2016). "Louisiana Governor Just Signed Controversial LGBT Executive Order That Will Shock Many Americans: Also reneged order from Bobby Jindal". Retrieved April 17, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Amite, seat of Tangipahoa Parish, was originally in that part of the church parish of Saint Helena which in 1869 was carved from Saint Helena Parish to form the civil parish of Tangipahoa.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Tara Hollis
Democratic nominee for Governor of Louisiana
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bobby Jindal
Governor of Louisiana
Political offices
Preceded by
Robby Carter
Louisiana State Representative for District 72 (Tangipahoa Parish)
Succeeded by
Robby Carter
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
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Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
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as Governor of Ohio
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