BATON ROUGE — The only major Democratic contender in the Louisiana governor’s race, John Bel Edwards, had the largest haul in the latest fundraising period. But Republican David Vitter still has the heftiest campaign account.
Fundraising reports were due Thursday to the state ethics administration office, outlining the money raised for a two-month period from July 17 through Sept. 14. They offer a look at the financing available to the four major gubernatorial contenders for advertising blitzes leading into the Oct. 24 election.
Vitter, a U.S. senator, dwarfed his competitors, announcing $4 million cash on hand after raising $838,000. A super PAC supporting his candidacy, called the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, reported another $3.1 million in the bank.
“We’re poised for a strong campaign getting out our plan to build a brighter future for Louisiana,” Vitter said in a statement.
Edwards, a state representative from Tangipahoa Parish, had nearly $1.4 million to spend on the race’s final weeks after narrowly besting Vitter in fundraising for the two-month period, taking in $842,000.
Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne reported $1.6 million in his governor’s race account and described himself as “ready for the stretch run.” He took in $376,000 in the most recent two months and has just started airing TV ads in recent weeks.
GOP contender Scott Angelle, a member of the Public Service Commission, had about $1 million in the bank after raising $617,000 in the latest period. A super PAC backing Angelle’s candidacy, called Louisiana Rising PAC, reported $1.1 million to spend on the race after receiving $1 million from wealthy Houston oilman James Flores.
In the last week, Vitter has launched attack ads against his two GOP rivals, Angelle and Dardenne. Angelle has responded with an attack ad of his own targeting Vitter. Both Angelle and Vitter claim the hits are a sign that Vitter’s front-runner status is slipping.
“We have the resources to set the record straight and ensure voters know there is a scandal-free, experienced alternative who has a plan to tackle the challenges Louisiana faces,” Dardenne campaign manager Jay Vicknair said in a statement.
A super PAC supporting Dardenne will be little help. The Now or Never Louisiana PAC reported less than $9,000 cash on hand.
Vitter can likely expect more outside attacks ahead of the election.
An anti-Vitter organization called GUMBO PAC filed paperwork showing it had about $85,000 to spend. And the Louisiana Water Coalition, which has run ads reminding voters of Vitter’s 2007 prostitution scandal, reported having $304,000 remaining in its account.
The water coalition PAC has one donor: Talbot Carmouche & Marcello, a law firm that has filed lawsuits against oil and gas companies for coastal wetlands damage. Vitter opposes the lawsuits and wants changes to the state’s civil court system to curb similar suits in the future.
Five other candidates are in the governor’s race. But of those who filed, they reported little to no fundraising, each with less than $5,000 in their campaign accounts.