Lieutenant governor’s race fundraising topped the $2 million mark as Saturday’s election approaches.
Incumbent Jay Dardenne and challenger Billy Nungesser report contributions in excess of $1 million each.
Campaign finance reports also show that Nungesser has now loaned his campaign $1.3 million — with the addition of $300,000 in the days leading up to the election.
In recent days, Nungesser has also paid out $79,000 to Democratic and black groups. Most are located in the New Orleans area. Payments ranged from $1,500 to $15,000 for “endorsement ballots” that are handed out to voters.
“You pay for your pro-rata share to be on the ballot,” Nungesser said Thursday.
Dardenne’s latest reports show no similar activity leading to election day.
Dardenne and Nungesser, who is president of Plaquemines Parish, are both Republicans.
The two candidates prepared for a final day of campaigning Friday.
Nungesser is scheduled to make a flying tour of seven cities with U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., joining him at four stops. Country music singer Sammy Kershaw, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2007 and again in 2010, is also traveling with Nungesser.
The Baton Rouge stop is at the corner of Corporate Boulevard and Jefferson Highway, according to Nungesser’s campaign.
Dardenne said he has no public events planned. He said he will be in Hammond, then travel to the north shore before returning to Baton Rouge in the evening.
On Thursday, Dardenne and Nungesser sought votes from members of tourism-related groups in their last joint appearance of the campaign.
Unlike previous appearances, during which the opponents traded accusations, Dardenne and Nungesser spoke about tourism promotion at the event sponsored by the Baton Rouge Lodging Association and the Sales and Marketing Executives of Greater Baton Rouge.
Each stressed their qualifications for the job, which in addition to leading the state’s tourism efforts, also is the first in line of succession to the governor.
Dardenne talked about plans to improve the state’s tourism website to attract more visitors and promote what Louisiana has to offer to the 25 million visitors expected for the state’s bicentennial celebration.
“That’s a lot of heads and beds,” said Dardenne, noting that for each $1 invested in tourism the state gains $17 in revenues.
Dardenne promised to fight any attempt to reduce tourism funding that comes through the dedication of a fraction of sales taxes.
Dardenne noted that he has been endorsed by top industry groups through the New Orleans Hospitality PAC and Travel PAC.
Nungesser said tourism is a big business in Louisiana.
“The industry deserves a seat at the table” as the state’s tourism efforts are planned, said Nungesser. “When you elect me, I don’t become an expert in tourism.”
With tough fiscal times, Nungesser said private industry sponsorship of state parks and historic properties should be considered.