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Both sides claim victory in governor race debate

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Both of the surviving campaigns for governor claimed victory in Wednesday night’s debate, the only one-on-one debate between incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and his Republican challenger, Eddie Rispone, before the Nov. 16 election.

“Tonight Louisianans heard a clear vision for the future from Gov. Edwards, with plans for more investments in education, more job creation, and more opportunity for all Louisianans,” said Richard Carbo, Edwards campaign manager. Rispone, “on the other hand, ducked every question. This will be Eddie’s only appearance with Gov. Edwards in the runoff, because Eddie doesn’t want Louisiana to hear about his plans to repeal Medicaid expansion and take our state back to record deficits and education cuts.”

Rispone has called for a temporary “freeze” of Medicaid eligibility to ensure ineligible people are not on the rolls. In a November 2018 report, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office said the state might have spent $85 million over 20 months on individuals who didn’t qualify for Medicaid.

Critics of Rispone’s plan say it is a legally dubious de facto repeal that would hurt people who cycle in and out of the program due to changing circumstances.

“Tonight only highlighted how this election is a clear choice between a liberal, tax and spend, career politician and a pro-Trump, conservative outsider, and businessman,” said Anthony Ramirez, communications director for Rispone’s campaign. “John Bel Edwards appeared angry because he knows that he cannot hide behind his failed liberal record. If we want different we have to do different and that starts by electing Eddie Rispone as our next governor.”