Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), who died Monday morning at 93, was simultaneously known for being a colorful — and corrupt — character.
After, he was out of office, Edwards spent more than eight years in federal prison on racketeering charges, but despite his reputation, Inside Elections' Jacob Rubashkin wrote Monday that the "flawed" politician "drove a stake through the heart" of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's political ambitions. The two squared off in Louisiana's 1991 gubernatorial election, which ended with Edwards trouncing Duke. During the campaign, Rubashkin notes, Edwards "roasted" his competitor "mercilessly."
Those insults included one of Edwards' more memorable PG-13-rated remarks, but he took more serious aim at Duke's agenda, as well. "While David Duke was burning crosses and scaring people, I was building hospitals to heal them," Edwards once told a statewide televised audience, The Advocate writes. "When he was parading around in a Nazi uniform to intimidate our citizens, I was in a National Guard uniform bringing relief to flood and hurricane victims. When he was selling Nazi hate literature as late as 1989 in his legislative office, I was providing free textbooks for the children of this state."
The message worked, and even people who weren't completely sold on Edwards by that point (he had two previous turns as governor) wound up supporting him anyway, their lukewarm feelings captured in bumper stickers that read "Vote for the Crook. It's important," or "Vote for the Lizard, not the Wizard." Read a full obituary for Edwards at The Advocate.