ATLANTA -- Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards said last week that he does not intend to seek re-election.
"There is one reason and one reason only -- I want to do something else with the rest of my life," the 66-year old Democrat told shocked lawmakers last Monday at the end of a televised speech opening a special session of the legislature.
But Edwards, in the third year of an unprecedented fourth stint as the state's chief executive, also assured Louisianans that he would complete his term, which ends Jan. 14, 19963
"Until then, I will be just as active, just as concerned, just as involved, just as hard-working," he said.
Edwards, who has been in state government for four decades, won his first term as governor in 1971, and repeated with another election victory in 1975. In 1983, he won again, but then bowed out of the 1987 race afer finishing second in the gubernatorial primary to Buddy Roemer.
Edward's third term was shadowed by federal embezzlement and conspiracy indictiments, as well as a deterioration of the state's economy. The criminal charges did not result in convictions.
In his speech, the governor vigorously denied that he had made his decision based on a calculation that he could not win the election or that he was facing another indictment.
"Certainly you must know that, if I had any such fears, I would cling to the idea of running for re-election as my best defense," he said.
Edward refused last week to endorse anyone for governor.
State Treasurer Mary Landrieu has indicateds an interest in seeking the governorship. According to political observers, other possible Democratic contenders next year are Melinda Schwegmann, currently lieutenant governor, and the Speaker of the House of Representative, John Alario. On the Republican side, Roemer and secretary of state Fox McKeithen could be candidates. Roemer switched parties in 1991.
In the course of his speech last week, Edwards listed what he considered his major accomplishments as governor. These included: rewriting of the state's constitution in 1973, revamping the collection of severance taxes, rebuilding the state's highways, and modernizing its charity hospital system.