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Democrat Edwards Wins Louisiana Governor Election

Louisiana Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards hugs his wife Donna Edwards as he arrives to greet supporters at his election night watch party in New Orleans, Nov. 21, 2015.

Democrat John Bel Edwards will be the next governor of the southern U.S. state of Louisiana, after winning a runoff election against once-favored Republican Senator David Vitter.

Two years ago, Vitter's long history of success in the state and healthy fundraising made him the clear choice to replace Governor Bobby Jindal, who is leaving office after serving the maximum two terms.

But the race shifted dramatically in recent months as Vitter clashed with other Republican candidates and Edwards cast him as no different than Jindal in a state that is struggling economically. Vitter responded with criticism linking Edwards to President Barack Obama.

Refugee Issue

Both candidates also spent the past week trading barbs over the president's plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S., even though their basic positions are similar in opposing the effort.

Vitter introduced a bill on Tuesday that would prohibit the U.S. from admitting any Syrian refugees. The restriction would last until the president gives Congress certifications on protocols for deciding on Syrian refugee admissions, as well as a State Department briefing on the increase in refugees that includes "information on any terrorist conduct."

Edwards issued a statement after the November 13 attacks in Paris calling on the president to halt the placement of Syrian refugees in Louisiana until the Obama administration gives answers about security measures.

Edwards also used his campaign to portray himself as different from Vitter on a personal level, emphasizing his own military service while Vitter faced renewed questions about a 2007 prostitution scandal.

The election brings into focus the national political landscape as the country prepares to elect its next president in November 2016. Each of the 50 states is led by a governor, and when Edwards takes office he will be one of 18 Democrats in that office, along with 31 Republican governors and one independent.

Some material for this report came from AP.