Tony Bacala, former longtime chief deputy for Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley, says he pulled in some cash as friends ate some catfish during his first fundraiser earlier this week for the state House District 59 election this fall.

With a big, portable “Tony Bacala” sign sitting along Airline Highway, the event at Elegant Affairs just north of Gonzales on Tuesday night drew about 300 people and pulled in $30,000, he says. Since he announced his campaign, he’s raised $115,000.

Bacala, a Republican from Prairieville, was introduced by Wiley and 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin and talked about his plan for roads, education and efficient state services.

State Rep. Eddie J. Lambert, R-Prairieville, is term-limited from the all-Ascension District 59 and is running for the state Senate.

Qualifying for the Oct. 24 election isn’t until September, but Bacala had been headed into a three-way race against former Parish Council Chairman Pat Bell and Gonzales-area businessman and former Parish Councilman Jared “Burger” Beiriger.

But Beiriger said in an interview this week that he is out of the race. Beiriger said his own polling showed many viewed Bacala as a “Boy Scout” for his personal integrity. He said he realized he would not be able to invest the necessary time campaigning, and away from his businesses, to challenge Bacala.

“Just can’t do both,” Beiriger said, adding that he is endorsing Bacala and will return to his contributors the $43,000 he had raised but not yet spent.

Advocate staff writer David J. Mitchell contributed to this report.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated to correct an earlier version about the amount of money raised at Tony Bacala’s fundraiser on Tuesday.