Candidates in the contested races on the Oct. 22 statewide election ballot are using their own wealth to bolster their campaign war chests.
Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who is challenging Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, loaned his campaign $1 million, according to the latest campaign finance report filed with the Louisiana Board of Ethics, which were due by 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler reported loaning his campaign another $200,000, bringing the total to $325,000 since he entered the race.
Challenger House Speaker Jim Tucker committed $500,000 in personal funds to his election effort.
Nungesser, Dardenne, Schedler and Tucker are all Republicans.
Only Dardenne has relied on individual contributions to finance his re-election campaign.
Dardenne called Nungesser’s $1 million personal campaign loan “an attempt to buy the office.”
“My support has always been from people across the state who believe in what I stand for,” Dardenne said.
Nungesser said he is good at raising money for other candidates but has a hard time asking for himself.
“It does make it easier if you are willing to invest yourself,” he said. “I told my supporters I would match them $1 for $1.”
As for Dardenne’s accusation, Nungesser said: “Obviously, he has nothing to run on other than attacking me.”
State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, a Republican, also is relying on his own wealth to fuel his campaign against two opponents.
Earlier this summer, Strain loaned his campaign $250,000.
His latest campaign finance report shows he has roughly $243,000 in campaign funds on hand.
Thursday was the deadline for candidates in the Oct. 22 election to file reports reflecting fundraising and expenditures between July 15 and Sept. 12. The reports are submitted electronically to the state ethics agency.
The lieutenant governor and secretary of state’s race are the only high-profile contests out of the seven statewide races on this fall’s ballot.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and state Treasurer John Kennedy have no opposition. Low profile candidates are challenging Gov. Bobby Jindal, Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon and Strain.
Kennedy is sitting on $1.94 million after raising $87,250 during the reporting period and spending $46,819.
Caldwell reported having more than $450,000 on hand in campaign funds.
He raised and spent little money in two months, bringing in roughly $34,000 and spending about $50,000.
Caldwell won automatic re-election when his sole opponent fellow Republican Anh “Jo-seph” Cao dropped out of the race earlier this week.
Cao filed a report to show he repaid himself the $100,000 he earlier loaned his campaign.
Jindal filed his campaign finance report earlier than required. The report shows the governor is using part of his $7.7 million war chest to help candidates in other races.
Nine candidates are challenging the governor’s bid for a second term. None appears to have significant financial backing.
Democrat “Niki Bird” Papazoglakis said she loaned her campaign $5,100 and drew a single contribution of $100.
Another Democrat, schoolteacher Tara Hollis, had not filed a campaign finance report by press time Thursday, but said she would. Other
candidates for governor had not filed their reports as of press time Thursday night.
In other races, Nungesser had $1.66 million in cash on hand, buoyed by personal funds, compared with Dardenne’s $636,596.
In the two months covered by the reports, Nungesser raised and spent more than Dardenne.
In the secretary of state’s race, Schedler reported having $364,409 in cash on hand going into elections. Tucker had $694,802 in the bank. Schedler lagged Tucker in individual campaign contributions during the period $39,860 to $99,376.
Donelon, who is facing a candidate with little political experience, has $413,340 in his campaign account.
He raised $65,650 in the last two-month reporting period and spent $272,457.
Donelon’s opponent is lawyer Donald C. Hodge, of Baton Rouge. He is running as a Democrat.