A group supporting Gov. John Bel Edwards in his re-election bid has launched the first television advertisement in this year’s race, a 30-second spot crediting him for an upcoming teacher pay raise and education spending boosts legislators approved in their just-completed session.
The ad began running Monday in all of the state’s seven media markets, said Emilie Tenenbaum, a senior consultant for Rebuild Louisiana, the group behind the advertisement. It also is being shown online.
Two Republicans are challenging Edwards in the Oct. 12 primary election: U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, from Alto in northeast Louisiana, and Eddie Rispone, a self-made electrical contractor from Baton Rouge.
The Rebuild Louisiana ad correctly notes that Edwards worked with Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to increase teacher pay by $1,000 per year and to pay bus drivers, cafeteria personnel and similar school personnel another $500 per year. The ad also correctly notes it is the first teacher pay raise in a decade.
“This investment in our future is proof of what is possible when we turn a budget deficit into a budget surplus,” a female narrator says, as the ad flashes classroom images followed by Edwards speaking behind a lectern.
The ad also notes that the Legislature, at the behest of Edwards, increased spending on K-12 spending by $39 million. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education also supported the boost, though the ad doesn’t mention this.
Tenenbaum said the group opted to air the ad this early — nearly four months before the election — now that the 60-day legislative session is over.
“We wanted to wrap up the legislative session and tout the accomplishments for the governor and the state of Louisiana,” Tenenbaum said.
Rebuild Louisiana is registered as a 501(c)4 group with the IRS, meaning it is a nonprofit that can publicize a candidate’s achievements without expressly asking the public to vote for the candidate.
Rebuild Louisiana, which doesn’t have to disclose its donors, is allowed to coordinate its activities with the Edwards re-election campaign. They share the same media consultant, Jared Arsement, who also devised Edwards’ TV ads during the 2015 gubernatorial campaign.
With Edwards enjoying a healthy lead in the polls, Abraham and Rispone are trying to keep him below 50 percent in the primary and force him into a runoff that would be held on Nov. 16.