GONZALES — Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez and parish assessor candidate M.J. “Mert” Smiley Jr. headed into Saturday’s primary election with sizeable advantages over their opponents in cash on hand and total campaign spending.
Campaign finance reports on Ascension’s key parishwide races filed through Wednesday show Martinez, an independent, spent 1.6 times more than challenger Kathryn Goppelt on the race through early October: $39,124 to $14,895.
Goppelt is a citizen activist who is a first-time political candidate. Martinez is seeking a second consecutive four-year term as parish president.
Reports filed through Wednesday also show Smiley, a Republican, spent 2.35 times more than incumbent Assessor Renee Mire Michel, a Democrat: $73,748 to $31,357.
Smiley is a state representative from St. Amant who declined to seek a third and final term in the state House of Representatives to run for assessor. Michel is seeking her third term in office.
In both races, campaign finance reports filed with the Louisiana Ethics Administration Program stopped detailing spending in early October, though contribution reports have continued to be filed.
Some of Martinez’s spending occurred before there was any announced candidate.
Though one administration critic — Goppelt financial backer and ally Al Robert — had suggested in late spring of this year he might run against Martinez, Robert declined and Goppelt kept her plans quiet until qualifying in early September.
On the fundraising side, Martinez outpaced Goppelt from January to early October, raking in $74,531 to $29,300, reports show.
Martinez is an established incumbent who began 2011 with $93,917 in his campaign fund.
Goppelt began her campaign essentially at qualifying with no cash on hand and had made personal loans to her campaign fund totaling $18,919 through early October to help even the advantage.
In the assessor’s race, the fundraising advantage is not as great for Smiley. He has pulled in $67,572 from Jan. 1 to early October while Michel has accumulated $62,575 in the same period.
But $25,000 of Michel’s funds are in three personal loans she has made to her campaign.
Also, Smiley began the year with $83,163 in cash on hand. Michel had nothing.
Based solely on contributions through Wednesday, Smiley has beaten Michel nearly 2 to 1, $75,594 to $44,575.
Since the close of the reporting period ended in early October, Smiley received $7,500 in contributions to Michel’s $7,000, rounding out the contribution totals through Wednesday.
Prior to those latest contributions, Smiley had closed that early October period with $70,945 in cash on hand to Michel’s $21,218.
In the parish president’s race, Martinez had $125,724 in cash on hand to Goppelt’s $14,148 when the period ended in early October closed.
Since then, Martinez has taken in an additional $14,100 in contributions to Goppelt’s $1,000, reports show.