With a possibly bitter re-election bid ahead of him, Gov. John Bel Edwards has more than $5 million in his campaign coffers nearly two years out from the October 2019 election, his latest annual campaign finance report shows.

Edwards, a Democrat who announced his plans to seek a second term shortly after taking office in January 2016, has more than $5 million in the bank after having raised nearly $2.2 million in 2017 and spending about $310,230.

He started the year with more than $3.17 million after his first full year in office.

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"I am so optimistic about our state's future and where we stand at the halfway point of this administration, and I am humbled that the people of Louisiana have given my family this incredible opportunity," Edwards said in a statement on his fundraising efforts.

More than $1.8 million of the money Edwards raised came from donors in Louisiana, records show.

Among his notable expenses were payments to Mothership Strategies, a left-leaning Washington D.C.-based digital agency founded by former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee consultants that received more than $72,000 from the Edwards campaign in 2017 – more than any other vendor.

The governor's fundraising took a slight dip during his second year in office, after amassing more than $3 million during his first year.

Edwards's fundraising efforts didn't manage to match his predecessor, Bobby Jindal, a Republican who had more than $7 million in the bank after his second year in office. Jindal went on to easily win a second term.

No candidates have announced plans to challenge Edwards in his re-election bid, but several Republicans are mulling the idea. Those most often mentioned as possible foes include U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, Attorney General Jeff Landry, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, State Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Louisiana Association of Business and Industry president Stephen Waguespack.

Because Louisiana's gubernatorial races are held during a thin national cycle, 2019 is expected to be an especially heated and high-profile race, drawing attention from the national parties.

Edwards is the only governor in the Deep South who is a Democrat and Louisiana's only state-wide elected Democrat. Since taking office, Edwards has frequently clashed with House Republican leaders and others in the GOP, including those who have received the most chatter as possible challengers.

State annual reports are due Feb. 15, putting Edwards' filing about two weeks ahead of the deadline. Most other candidates' reports have not yet been filed.

Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.

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