The two highest-profile Republican candidates for lieutenant governor raised $4 million between them, but Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, who also covets the post, didn’t report any campaign contributions.
Holden said he didn’t file a campaign finance report for the lieutenant governor’s race — they were due at midnight Wednesday — because he has nothing to report, yet.
His two main challengers for the No. 2 post in state government also have experience running large parishes. Jefferson Parish President John Young reported $1.8 million available for this run. Billy Nungesser, the former president of Plaquemines Parish reported $2.1 million in cash on hand.
The lieutenant governor’s main job is to step in should the governor die, become incapacitated or leave the state. But his day-to-day role is to oversee the state’s tourism efforts and try to attract more visitors.
A Democrat who is in his third term as mayor-president of the state’s largest parish, Holden filed his paperwork under his present job but not the post he announced in mid-December that he would seek this year. Holden’s mayoral term doesn’t expire until the end of 2016, which means if he wins, he’d have to leave office a year early.
The campaign finance account for his mayor’s post showed $31,033 of cash on hand at the end of 2014. Those funds eventually can be moved to his lieutenant governor’s account. Holden closed out 2013 with a campaign war chest of just more than $64,500, according to his disclosures filed last year.
He said he had postponed fundraising because the U.S. congressional races dominated all the money during the time after he seriously considered a run. But, Holden says, a major fundraising blitz is in the planning stages. “We are going to be in tremendous shape,” he added.
His competitors’ reports show weakness, Holden asserts. “It’s money they already had before the start of this race,” Holden said.
Nungesser’s total was bolstered by $900,000 in personal loans. And Young transferred the bulk of his funds from his parish president’s account. Also, both of his monied competitors started their bids months earlier than he.
It’s Nungesser’s second bid for the No. 2 job in state government. Last time around, he had Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s endorsement as he sought to beat Republican Jay Dardenne, who won the contest. Vitter and Dardenne are facing each other in the 2015 governor’s race.
Also seeking to become lieutenant governor is state Sen. Elbert Guillory, R-Opelousas. He filed a report showing a negative balance of almost $6,000 when 2014 ended. Guillory, like Holden, is one of the state’s high-profile African-American politicians. He became the Legislature’s only black Republican in June 2013 when he switched parties. His videotaped attacks on U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu were widely viewed. Guillory’s been raising money for his “Free at Last” political action committee formed to show how liberal policies have affected the black community adversely.
Guillory was one of the late filers among those seeking statewide elected office.
Another was Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, of Amite, who is running for governor. Early in the day, Edwards put out a news release saying he had raised about $1 million since he entered the governor’s race. He did not include other information about his campaign finances.
The report Edwards ultimately filed showed he was substantially behind three Republican contenders — Vitter, Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle.
Edwards had just short of $750,000 in cash on hand when 2014 ended, compared to contribution leader Vitter with $3.5 million. Vitter had double that of Dardenne and Angelle combined. Dardenne reported $1.55 million and Angelle $1.43 million. Edwards reported raising $354,600 in cash contributions in 2014.