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Following Paris Attacks, Syrian Refugees Emerge As Issue in Louisiana Governor's Race

The race to replace outgoing Gov. Jindal is getting nasty, with both Vitter and Edwards trading angry punches. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While some have suggested the Paris attacks might have implications on the 2016 presidential race, voters in Louisiana are dealing with the issue in a much more immediate way.  

As voters prepare to head to the polls in Saturday’s gubernatorial runoff, Republican Sen. David Vitter — who is trailing in the polls to state Rep. John Bel Edwards — released a new television commercial that attempted to capitalize off of fears about Syrian refugees following reports that one of the attackers in France may have gotten into the country along with others who were fleeing the war that is raving their home country. https://twitter.com/DavidVitter/status/666369451416092672  

“One of the Paris ISIS terrorists entered France posing as a Syrian refugee. Now, Obama’s sending Syrian refugees to Louisiana,” a narrator says in the latest Vitter ad, with ominous music in the background and images of Parisian victims on screen. “John Bel Edwards has pledged to work with Obama to bring Syrian refugees to Louisiana.”  

Vitter's commercial was based on a Facebook post by Edwards over the weekend, in which he said as governor he would "continue to be an active participant in the ongoing conversation with federal authorities so that we can be partners in the effort to both assist refugees who are fleeing from religious persecution and ensure that all our people are safe."  

During a debate Monday evening, Edwards said Vitter was distorting his position on the issue. “David Vitter is desperate, he will like and distort,” he said. “That’s what he does, because he lacks a moral compass.”  

Edwards noted that he, like Vitter, support the state’s outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, who on Monday signed an executive order “instructing state agencies to take all available steps to stop the relocation of Syrian refugees” to the state. Louisiana has already accepted 14 Syrian refugees .  

“This is about public safety, The number one issue we face as a government," Edwards said.  

The latest Vitter commercial was another in a series of negative ads exchanged between the two candidates in what has become a vicious month of campaigning. Last week, Edwards released an ad that referenced Vitter's 2007 prostitution scandal and accused him of "choosing prostitutes over patriots."  

Also on Monday, Vitter unveiled another spot attempting to ding Edwards for skipping a debate that focused on "family issues, and the Family Research Council, led by former Louisiana state legislator Tony Perkins, launched its own radio commercial attempting to push him as the right choice for religious voters.  

“There are those like John Bel Edwards, who want to lead us back to a political and cultural Egypt – back into the bondage of liberal policies and corrupt politics that will harm our families and endanger our economy,” says the group’s president, Tony Perkins, a former Louisiana state representative, in the ad. “That is why I am voting for David Vitter.”  

A spokeswoman for the Family Research Council on Monday said the group had put $10,000 behind the ad, which will air on seven radio stations across the state.  

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