(Bloomberg) — Louisiana elected Democrat John Bel Edwards as governor on Saturday, ending eight years of Republican rule and making Louisiana the only state in the Deep Red U.S. South led by a Democrat.
Edwards, the minority leader in the Louisiana House, beat Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter, according to results reported by the Associated Press.
Edwards has made a point of saying he wants Louisiana to expand Medicaid using Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) funding.
The victory followed three years of work rebuilding the Louisiana’s Democratic Party and dissatisfaction with outgoing Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, said Karen Carter Peterson, Democratic Party chairwoman in the state and a state Senate leader.
“They had an unpopular governor and a flawed candidate and we had a great champion,” Peterson said. “We built up the party in the South, where that’s difficult. Nobody believed it could be done.”
Edwards, 49, is a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger who has spent much of the last eight years criticizing Jindal’s performance in office. He joined the Louisiana House in 2008 and has been minority leader since 2012.