Vitter, a U.S. senator, released a TV ad late last month that claimed Edwards, a state representative, wanted to release "dangerous thugs" from prison. One expert told The New Orleans Times-Picayune that he thought the ad was intended to "scare white people with black people."
Edwards' new ad features four sheriffs accusing Vitter—without naming him—of "using fear and deception for political gain" while undermining public safety in the process.
"The attacks against John Bel Edwards are not only false, they're irresponsible," Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said in the ad.
"John Bel has never supported releasing dangerous criminals," Rapides Parish Sheriff William Hilton added.
A powerful sheriff who’s played a bit part in the Louisiana governor’s race did not appear in the ad. Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand, who supported one of Vitter’s GOP primary opponents, arrested a private eye employed by Vitter’s campaign last month after the gumshoe fled a coffeeshop where he allegedly recorded the sheriff’s breakfast meeting.
Edwards' campaign said the ad is airing statewide but did not say for how long would run. The campaign also declined to provide a dollar amount of the ad buy, but spokeswoman Mary-Patricia Wray told TPM via email that the buy is "significant enough to saturate and adequately correct the deceptive, divisive message of David Vitter’s latest smear ad."