NEW ORLEANS — Edwin W. Edwards stepped aside Sunday with a grand gesture that befitted the flamboyant Louisiana governor, opting out of a runoff against U.S. Rep. Buddy Roemer after finishing second in the state's gubernatorial primary.
"He may have the Capitol now if he wants it," Edwards told stunned supporters gathered for what they had hoped would be a victory party.
Edwards, 60, finished second to Roemer in Saturday's open primary and was assured of a spot in a Nov. 21 runoff but conceded the race early Sunday. Both are Democrats.
The governor's current term, his third, ends in March.
Edwards, who had never lost a bid for public office in a political career dating from 1954, had been seeking an unprecedented fourth term. His third was marked by his acquittal in a federal racketeering trial and a deep statewide recession triggered by depressed oil and natural gas prices.