Edwin W. Edwards 1972-1980, 1984-1988, 1992-1996
Born: August 7, 1927 in Avoyelles Parish, near Marksville, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Catholic
Education: LSU; LSU Law School 1949
Career Prior to Term: U.S. Navy aviation cadet; City Councilman; State Senator; U.S. Representative; lawyer
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1972, 1976, 1983 and 1991
Career After Term: Lawyer
Edwin Washington Edwards was elected to his first term by an unprecedented combination of "Cajun" and black votes.
His administration was marked by several accomplishments. Edwards supported a constitutional convention to replace the unwieldy Constitution of 1921. The new Constitution, written in 1973 and made effective in 1975, directed the Governor to reorganize the executive branch. Edwards also pushed for legislation tying the severance tax on crude oil to a percentage of the barrel price rather than a flat fee.
High energy prices of the 70's helped Louisiana maintain a balanced budget during Edwards' first two terms.
Edwards named blacks to key state positions and his support of black politicians resulted in a mutually beneficial relationship. He supported the "open primary" which pitted candidates of all parties against each other in a first general primary which inadvertently strengthened the Republican Party in state elections as Democrats split their votes. Edwards' third term was marked by Federal indictments, but not convictions, for mail fraud, obstruction of justice and public bribery stemming from the sale of hospital certificates, and coincided with failing oil prices and failing state revenues.
Thought to be politically dead after conceding the 1987 race to Buddy Roemer, Edwards roared back into the Govenor's Mansion for an unprecedented fourth term in 1992. Not since his first gubernatorial election had Edwards received the endorsement of so many major newspapers and organizations - all intent on keeping former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke out of office. Early in his fourth term, Edwards led the passage of land-based casino gambling legislation.