Photos: Big smiles, big plays, big celebration as Ole Miss wins Sugar Bowl, downs Oklahoma State _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Former Mississippi Rebels quarterback Archie Manning, right, and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant look on the sideline before the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome in New Orleans, La. Friday, Jan. 1, 2016.

The Republican Governors Association will hold a fundraiser in New Orleans on Monday, featuring Govs. Greg Abbott of Texas and Phil Bryant of Mississippi.

Both U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, the two Republicans who have announced plans to run for governor in Louisiana this year, are expected to attend, an RGA spokesman confirmed.

The RGA has identified this year's race in Louisiana as a "top pick-up opportunity for Republicans" as Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards seeks a second term. The race could be the most expensive gubernatorial election in Louisiana history.

Rispone, who is running for office for the first time, and Abraham, who is in his third term in Congress, have been traveling the state in recent weeks, trying to woo supporters.

The election is Oct. 12. A Nov. 16 runoff will take place between the top two vote-getters if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, regardless of party.

The RGA isn't expected to endorse either Republican candidate before the runoff and likely will focus its efforts on an anti-Edwards message until the GOP has a single candidate in the race.

Edwards, who won what was thought to be a long-shot campaign for governor in 2015, has found himself at odds with several Republican officeholders, including Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, as well as the state House Republican leadership. Landry and Kennedy have both declined to run against Edwards, despite urging from some Republicans.


Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.