On Tuesday night, Nov. 4, there is one election I will be watching with enormous interest. It's not a Senate race. No, it's a House race.

One candidate is seeking to return to the House of Representatives after an over 40-year absence. He is the incomparable, one and only Edwin Edwards.

Where does one start in properly and fully describing this truly legendary practitioner of politics? Let me begin by telling you that Edwards is 87 years old. That in itself would be noteworthy. But more significant is that, previously, Edwards resided in prison for eight years.

This is not your typical run of the mill ex-con. Allow me to take you through his fascinating and checkered career.


He was first elected to the U.S. House in a special election in 1965. Yes, you just read that correctly. He served in the House until he ran for governor of Louisiana in 1971. He was elected and served two terms until 1979. After being term-limited, he sat out four years and then came back to run for governor. He got elected in 1983 and served one term. He withdrew before a runoff could take place in 1987.

In 1991, Edwards was back. This time his opponent was Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. At that time, Edwards said that he and Duke were alike in one respect: "I am a wizard under the sheets, too." The man can turn a phrase.

When he was running against Republican David Treen in a previous election, he had said that "Treen was so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 minutes." Treen once asked him, "Why he (Edwards) talked out both sides of his mouth." Edwards replied, "So people like you who have nothing between your ears can understand."

Going back to the 1991 election against Duke, there was the memorable bumper-sticker for Edwards:"Vote for the Crook, It's Important." This referred to Edwards' constant brushes with allegations of official corruption. He had been indicted in his third term as governor, but was acquitted.

Edwards did not run for reelection in 1995. He was then indicted and this time convicted on other corruption charges. Serving eight years in prison has not slowed him down. One attractive young woman now in her mid-30s visited him in prison. Upon release, he married her and they are the proud parents of a 16-month-old child.

Edwards is considered a long shot to win, but I'm rooting for him. What great copy and you've got to pay tribute to his resilience. This is no blow-dried ordinary, bland, wonkish dull pubic servant. He's full of life and revels in it.

As one former Louisiana state legislator told me, he loves "playing the game." Can you imagine Edwin Edwards on the floor of the House, throwing out those one-liners? C-SPAN couldn't get enough. The former politician who served with him told me that, above all, Edwards is a bipartisan dealmaker. There is a definite shortage of those these days.

Finally, a parting quote. This is the individual who once said the secret of success in politics is never to be "found in bed with a dead woman or live boy." Politically correct he'll never be.

Plotkin is a political analyst and a contributor to the BBC on American politics.