• Three state senators campaigning for the Senate presidency: John Alario, of Westwego; Neil Riser, of Columbia; and Mike Walsworth, of West Monroe.
• Three state representatives vying to be House speaker: Hunter Green and Erich Ponti, both of Baton Rouge; and Chuck Kleckley, of Lake Charles.
All are Republicans.
All are counting on re-election to their legislative seats in the Oct. 22 primary and are working to line up votes for the top chamber jobs, which pay more and wield more influence over legislative proceedings.
Governors traditionally have a lot of influence on who gets elected, and candidates are seeking Gov. Bobby Jindal’s support.
The six legislators registered their committees with the state ethics agency.
Alario reported raising $98,730 during 2010 for his Alario PAC. A large part of it is money from the nursing home industry. The most recent report showed he had $85,714 in cash.
“It’s important to help other people, whether I end up being president of the Senate or whatever else happens to me,” said Alario.
While a former Louisiana House speaker, Alario had a similar account which he used to contribute to the campaigns of legislators and others.
Kleckley filed two reports: one showing contributions of $23,200 in 2010, and another with $36,750 in 2011. Most of the money raised came from insurance interests. Kleckley is chairman of the House Insurance Committee.
His PAC had about $58,000 in cash as of the most recent report.
Kleckley PAC has donated to four candidates in the Oct. 22 election, according to the report. They are Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Reps. Andy Anders, D-Vidalia, and Rick Nowlin, R-Natchitoches, as well as announced House candidate Chris Broadwater of Hammond, also a Republican.
Ponti said he had a fundraiser last week at the Celtic Studios for his “Bridge PAC” to solicit contributions for his House race bid. The PAC is fairly new. Its initial contribution of $1,000 came from “Friends of Erich Ponti.”
“We are raising money. We are getting support from business people around the state,” Ponti said.
He said the name of his PAC comes from his own name, “Ponti,” which means bridge in Italian, and because, he says, people began calling him a “bridge builder” after he shepherded a congressional redistricting plan through the state Legislature.
Ponti said the speaker’s job is one of bringing people together.
Greene formed HG PAC, but said he has not started to raise money yet.
“I had quite a successful fundraiser for my campaign recently. I can use that money as well to support other candidates,” Greene said. “I think everyone that contributed knew I was running for speaker.”
“I just set it (the PAC) up in case I needed to have it,” said Greene. “It’s not required that I have a PAC.”
Greene said he is getting “a lot of positive feedback” on his candidacy.
The PACs allow candidates for the leadership jobs to make maximum contributions out of two campaign finance accounts.
Walsworth registered his “Mike PAC” and Riser his “Riser PAC” with state campaign finance offices. Neither has reported any fundraising activity.
Walsworth said he should have some contributions to report soon.
“I just wanted to reach out to help colleagues who may need help. Obviously, I have some colleagues in some tough races. That’s pretty much why I did it,” Walsworth said. “They have been helpful to me.”
He said he plans on using both his campaign account and his PAC to make contributions.</text-styling>