WASHINGTON — Settling into his role in the House GOP minority defending President Donald Trump from impeachment and other battles with Democrats, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, of Jefferson, dwarfed all fundraising from other Republicans in the state in 2019, despite having one of the most safely-held seats.
Scalise, who has been in Congress since 2008 and is the Louisiana delegation's longest-serving and highest-ranking member, raised nearly $14 million in the year. After spending more than $10 million — mostly on consultants and transfers to other candidates — Scalise ended the year with $4.7 million cash-on-hand.
The deadline for candidates to file to run is July 17. The jungle primary, where all candidates regardless of political party will face each other, is Nov. 3. In any race where no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will take place Dec. 5.
Seven of Louisiana's seats in the U.S. Capitol are up for reelection this year. None of them are considered vulnerable seats at this point. The only Democrat up for reelection is U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, of New Orleans, who has been in the U.S. House since 2011.
Campaign finance records show that in 2019, Richmond raised more than $700,000 and ended the year with more than $665,000 cash-on-hand. No one has begun campaigning against Richmond, who is also a co-chair of former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign this year.
House Democrats out-raised Republicans in 2019, but Scalise, who as the No. 2 Republican in the chamber has repeatedly eyed opportunities to move up to the top House GOP role, downplayed the significance.
"We've all been breaking records," Scalise said. "There is strong interest on both sides."
"Their side's fired up, and we're fired up," he added.
Scalise has traveled across the country — largely to battleground districts — to campaign for his fellow Republicans.
"I've raised more money than any member of Congress," he said.
Candidates also have political action committees that raise money separately from the candidates and can take larger donations but cannot coordinate directly with campaigns.
Of the current Louisiana members, U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, followed Scalise in the 2019 money haul, raising $168,700 during the year and spending $101,070. He ended the year with more than $1.8 million cash-on-hand.
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, a Bossier City Republican whose profile has seen a meteoric rise after he was appointed to Trump's impeachment defense team, raised more than $1.2 million in 2019. Johnson, who also chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, ended the year with nearly $640,000 cash-on-hand.
U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican from Alto who hasn't said if he will seek reelection after losing a blistering battle in last fall's Louisiana governor's race, focused his fundraising efforts on his statewide race so he only took in about $11,700 last year. He ended with $21,040 cash-on-hand when combined with what had been left in his coffers.
U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, raised more than $343,000 during 2019 and spent about $326,400. He has about $343,826 cash-on-hand, when combined with his previous haul.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, faces his first reelection bid since unseating three-term incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu, of New Orleans.
Cassidy has already attracted at least one Democratic challenger in Baton Rouge's Antoine Pierce, who has begun holding campaign events in the state. But Cassidy raised more than $7.1 million during 2019, ending the year with $5.3 million cash-on-hand.
Despite Louisiana being a heavily Republican state and his hard-fought battle against Landrieu six years ago, Cassidy said he’s not taking the race for granted.
“We always run as if we are 20 points behind,” he said. “We continue to work so that, whoever files, we will be prepared to take them on.”