Edwin Edwards once declared that the only thing that could keep him from Louisiana’s governor’s mansion was getting caught in bed with a “dead girl or a live boy.” He’s been called “The Luca Brasi of the Bayou,” “The Silver Zipper,” and “The Pirate Kingfish.” When Edwards ran against and trounced former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke in the 1988 governor’s race, he had bumper stickers printed up that read, “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important.” He then declared that the only thing he had in common with Duke was “that we are both wizards under the sheets.”
Edwards, a convicted felon, who just three years ago was released from federal prison for conviction on seventeen charges that included extortion, racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud. Edwards, who was notoriously corrupt, was under investigation for decades. After his conviction, Edwards quipped, “I will be a model prisoner as I was a model citizen.”
He’s tried without success to secure a pardon from President Barack Obama to run for governor of Louisiana, a position the 86 year old is not eligible to hold for 15 years because of his criminal record. However, he’s eligible to run for U.S. Congress, and declared his candidacy yesterday.
Edwards, a life long Democrat, has lived a fascinating if not surreal life in Louisiana politics. There may be no politician that is a better model for Lord Acton’s famous dictum, “power corrupts.” Edwards however, is still loved by large segments of Louisiana’s population. Agnes Brouilette, his mother, was pure Cajun French. As some have said of Edwards in Louisiana, “Un de nous autres.” He’s one of us. His charm and mastery of retail politics is renowned.
Edwards shows no remorse for his criminal past and still feels he was wrongly convicted. Still, Louisiana, which has a runoff system instead instead of a primary, may be stuck with the ex-con Edwards getting national and international attention for the foreseeable future. It is notable that many politicians go into service with the intention of being good citizens and doing their best to represent their constituency honestly. Only later do they fall into corruption or become consumed by power. Edwards is a candidate who for years has mocked and even celebrated his corruption. There is an ugliness to power that makes people believe they are idols. Laws are for lesser men.
While somewhat dated in regards to the political career of Edwards, there is an excellent book titled The Last Hayride by David Maginnis. In its pages you will find the fascinating account of the political career of Edwards, a politician who acted as God and believed in his own goodness.