Former Gov. Edwin Edwards, the charismatic rogue who served four terms in the Capitol as well as a stint in federal prison for corruption, can still pack a room.
More than 500 people, among them current Gov. John Bel Edwards, no relation, packed the swank Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge Saturday night to celebrate Edwin Edwards' 90th birthday.
"We could have sold out three times," said Robert Gentry, chairman of the event and former longtime publisher of the Sabine Index newspaper in Many.
The former governor, still quick with a quip, said he was humbled by the turnout.
"It's one of the highlights of my long career," he said in an interview with USA Today Network. "I've had a great life."
But his life is far from over. The governor is raising his 4-year-old son Eli with his wife Trina, who is a half-century younger than Edwards.
"I'm 90 years old and I woke up Friday and took my son to preschool," he said. "Not many people have that opportunity."
Current Gov. John Bel Edwards dismissed any criticism he has received for attending Edwards' birthday party as "ridiculous."
"I'm here to celebrate a 90th birthday party," he said.
Current state Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, was also among the guests, as was former Gov. Kathleen Blanco.
"I came to pay my respects and celebrate my friend's birthday," said Alario, who has served with seven governors.
Edwards' oldest children, Stephen and Anna Edwards, said they were grateful many in Louisiana still embrace their father even after he was convicted of corruption.
"The outpouring of affection is amazing," Anna Edwards said.
Edwards served 16 years as governor between 1972 and 1996. Before that, he won a seat in Congress, but he said his love for the state kept him in Louisiana.
"I've been around the world six times and in every state and there's not a better place in America and the world than Louisiana," he said.
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