With a dozen days to go before voting begins statewide, the three main Republicans running for state treasurer still are regional candidates who have made little headway in other parts of Louisiana – at least when it comes to raising money.
Almost half of the campaign contributions raised through Sept. 4 by former Commissioner of Administration Angele Davis comes from donors living in Baton Rouge, according to the latest financial disclosures filed last week with the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
A Columbia banker and funeral home director, state Sen. Neil Riser is backed primarily by north Louisiana businessmen who account for about 60 percent of the campaign donations he has raised.
The bulk of support – about 30 percent of total donations received – for Covington’s former state Rep. John Schroder comes from his fellow contractors and real estate developers on the booming North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
Yet, the three have made few inroads into the wallets of New Orleans, which is holding a mayoral contest likely to attract the most voters in an election where, statewide at least, less than 20 percent are expected to bother casting ballots.
Davis reports raising about $81,000 from New Orleans donors – twice what her opponents have received, but considered a paltry sum by political strategists.
Lafayette, Lakes Charles and Acadiana are the other expected battlegrounds, but all three major GOP candidates have raised less $60,000 from voters living there.
There are six candidates for state treasurer and together they reported having $1.12 million in hand to pay for the final sprint to the Oct. 14 election, according to the ethics reports. Actually, that’s almost all the big three GOP candidates’ money.
The Democrat, New Orleans lawyer Derrick Edwards, and remaining two candidates – John Terry Hughes, R-Lafayette, and Libertarian Joseph Little, of Ponchatoula – account for $835.72 of the million dollar amount.
Schroder reported more cash on hand – $614,644 – than the other five combined, who had $500,574.
But, the latest reports show Davis and Riser each raised about 30 percent more than Schroder between July 7 and Sept. 4.
Schroder, Riser and Davis are not well known outside their regions and are polling in the teens statewide.
Edwards is the only Democrat and has been garnering support in the high 20s and low 30s in the various surveys. But Edwards is not backed by the state’s Democratic Party and several major New Orleans politicians have thrown their support to Riser.
A million dollars may sound like a lot, but in a statewide race that money doesn’t go very far. Television in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette and Shreveport, each cost north of $100,000 a week to be effective.
Though not a true apples-to-apples comparison, the major candidates in the 2015 gubernatorial race spent almost $31 million and the candidates in 2007 spent about $32 million.
Early voting in the Oct. 14 election begins Sept. 30 and ends Oct. 7. If no one candidate wins a majority, the top two vote-getters will meet in a Nov. 18 runoff. The winner will fill the remaining two years of John N. Kennedy’s term. He resigned in January to join the U.S. Senate.
One of the seven state government officials elected statewide, the treasurer acts as Louisiana’s banker, pooling the revenues and writing the checks to pay the bills. The treasurer makes short-term investments of the money that’s not immediately needed, chairs the Bond Commission, and negotiates the state’s debt.
For years, Ron Henson was the one left behind at the Treasury Department when John N. Kenned…
Schroder’s backers include past LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott Ballard, a restaurant franchiser from Covington; Phyllis Taylor, the widow of the New Orleans oilman who founded the popular TOPS college grant; and Lane Grigsby, the Baton Rouge contractor who contributes liberally to conservative candidates.
Schroder lent the campaign $186,000 of his own money in late December. He’s received $54,197 from political committees.
A force at the State Capitol, Riser has chaired influential money committees and now heads the Senate Labor panel. Riser has significant support among lobbyists and lawmakers, past and present. Lobbyist Paul Rainwater, a former commissioner of administration under Gov. Bobby Jindal; former House Speaker Charles DeWitt; former Senate President Don Hines; and current Senate President John Alario have written big checks.
He’s also received $71,250 from political committees for trade groups and special interests. Riser had $145,095.44 on hand on Sept. 4.
With former Gov. Mike Foster in her corner, Davis raised the most money from the major oilfield bosses, like Lafourche Parish boatman Donald Bollinger, who finance Republican causes and candidates.
Nearly a third of her contributions come from lawyers.
She also received financial help from some of Jindal’s key backers, such as Rolfe McCollister Jr. and Roy O. Martin. Jindal-era agency heads and their families, like then Secretary of the Department of Health & Hospitals Alan Levine and Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret’s wife, have donated as have former aides to Jindal.
Davis reported $354,593 on hand.