Who is John Bel Edwards? Here are 4 things to know about Louisiana’s governor

Who is John Bel Edwards? Here are 4 things to know about Louisiana’s governor

John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, has served as governor of Louisiana since 2016, after defeating Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter in the second round of the 2015 election for governor.

He was reelected to a second term in the 2019 election, becoming the first Democratic governor to win reelection in the state since 1975.

The governor of the Bayou State has taken the lead in his state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, ordering residents to stay home and closing non-essential businesses in an effort to curb the virus’ spread.

Gov. John Bel Edwards talks to media at the Case Closed Barbershop on November 15, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards talks to media at the Case Closed Barbershop on November 15, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Getty)

Here are four things to know about Bel Edwards.

He is an Army veteran

Bel Edwards was born in Amite City, La., on Sept. 16, 1966, the seventh out of eight children. After graduating from Amite High School in 1984 – as valedictorian – he went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in engineering from West Point.

For eight years, Bel Edwards went on to serve in the Army, mostly with the 25th Infantry Division and 82nd Airborne Division, including commanding a company in the 82nd’s 3rd Brigade, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

When he ended his military career, he returned to Louisiana and received a J.D. law degree from the Louisiana State University Paul M. Herbert Law Center in 1999. He did not practice criminal law because of his brother’s status as a local sheriff.

NEW ORLEANS DOCTOR ON LOUISIANA POTENTIALLY BECOMING NEXT CORONAVIRUS HOTSPOT

He was overwhelmingly elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives

Bel Edwards ran for a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 2007, beating fellow attorney George Tucker in a general election run-off.

A pro-life Democrat, Bel Edwards was overwhelmingly elected, winning every parish in House District 72. He served for eight years.

During his tenure, he chaired the Veterans Affairs Committee in the House – the only freshman lawmaker to chair a committee – and also was selected as chairman of the Democratic house caucus. He was also critical of then Gov. Bobby Jindal for his frequent trips away from Louisiana to raise funds for Republicans elsewhere.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a news conference regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the state, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks at a news conference regarding the spread of COVID-19 in the state, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (The Advocate via AP)

Public service is a family business

Bel Edwards is the son of Dora Jean, a charity nurse, and former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Frank M. Edwards Jr. His brother Frank M. Edwards III is the police chief for the town of Independence, La. Meanwhile, his brother Daniel H. Edwards followed their father’s path to become the Tangipahoa Parish sheriff.

His sister-in-law, Blair Downing Edwards, is a judge in the 21st Judicial Juvenile District Court, and is a Republican.

In 2014, Bel Edwards and members of his Tangipahoa Parish political family were inducted as a group into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame Winnfield.

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Coronavirus response raised the governor’s profile

The global coronavirus pandemic has helped propel Bel Edward’s profile to a national stage for his response and attempts to curb the spread of the virus.

The state has become another hotspot after reporting more than 6,980 positive infections of COVID-19 and at least 273 deaths, including 115 just in New Orleans.

Cases have been reported in at least 60 of the state’s 64 parishes.

A streetcar conductor wears a mask as she runs her route on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Much of the city is shut down and many are taking precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

A streetcar conductor wears a mask as she runs her route on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Much of the city is shut down and many are taking precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

On March 6, Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and ordered all public schools, casinos, bars, movie theaters and gyms closed. He followed that up with a statewide stay-at-home order on March 22.

“This order is not something I take lightly, but it is necessary to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our people, our communities and our new way of life.

Bel Edward’s response to the virus garnered the praise of President Donald Trump, citing his cooperation with federal relief efforts amid the pandemic.

“In the case of Louisiana, we have a very good governor, John Bel Edwards,” Trump, who approved a major disaster declaration for Louisiana, told Fox News. “We’re building a hospital for him.”

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