MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Ralph Abraham announced December 6, 2018, that he will run for Governor of Louisiana.
Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-Alto)
"I'm running for Governor, and I intend to win," Abraham said.
Abraham will have a formal campaign launch after the first of the year.
Abraham is a Republican and has served in Congress since 2015 as the U.S. Representative for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. It includes 24 parishes in North, Central, and Southeast Louisiana.
KNOE caught up with Abraham on the phone today. He said he wants to be the person to bring change to the state.
"We are last in just about every meaningful category that comes out, as far as from health care, education, business, you name it," Abraham said. "We're either 49th or 50th and that's unacceptable. I'm truly worried about the direction our state is going."
Abraham's announcement comes on the heels of major Republican figures announcing they won't run for governor, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Attorney General Jeff Landry, and most notably, U.S. Senator John Kennedy, who bowed out on Monday.
Abraham says Kennedy's announcement opened the door for him.
"We were looking at it hard anyway, but John certainly bowing out of it did call for a little bit of a window for us to put our foot in the water," Abraham said.
But, his announcement isn't scaring current Governor John Bel Edwards.
"I feel very good about the election because I know how much better off the state is today than it was three years ago, because of the work we've done," Edwards said.
The numbers show Edwards will be tough to beat. A Mason-Dixon poll from back in February had Edwards' approval rating at 55 percent. Even more, it had him ahead of Abraham by 23 percentage points.
But, Abraham may have one slight advantage.
"I have no doubt that Governor Edwards and his team has spent probably the last 12 months on some unofficial level strategizing and preparing for Senator Kennedy," ULM political science professor Joshua Stockley said. "Now they've got to start over, if you will. Who is our opponent, and how are we going to challenge them?"
Abraham says he plans to challenge Edwards on policy.
"John Bel Edwards just put his weight behind all the wrong things," Abraham said. "These taxes that he continues to raise that he can pay for increased state spending. [It's] literally chasing businesses and jobs out of my state."
Edwards released a full statement in response to Abraham's announcement.
It reads, "On Monday, Representative Abraham said he couldn’t launch a campaign for governor because it would distract him from important work on the farm bill, soy bean crisis, looming government shutdown, flood insurance expiration, and other issues the people of Louisiana have entrusted him to handle on their behalf. None of those issues have been resolved. Now, just a few days later, he’s abandoning those responsibilities along with the congressional office he was re-elected to exactly one month ago. For the sake of the people of Louisiana, it is my hope that he seriously considers whether or not he is capable of running for governor while fulfilling his duties in Washington, DC.
“I welcome this debate. I've got a consistent record of working across the aisle to get things done for Louisiana. Together, we've turned a $2 billion budget deficit into a budget surplus. Last year, we reduced the tax burden on the people of Louisiana by $600 million. Our economy is the 12th fastest growing in the country. More people are working in Louisiana than ever before. And we are securing the largest economic development projects in our state’s history. The state and our people are much better off now than they were three years ago, and I look forward to another five years of putting the people of Louisiana first.”