Campaigns and political action committees have pumped millions into the Louisiana governor’s race over the past two months.
According to The Advocate’s analysis of campaign finance reports that were due Thursday, candidates and PACs spent more than $6 million between July 18 and Sept. 14.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, all Republicans, and Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards are the four major candidates for governor this year. The election is Oct. 24 with a Nov. 21 runoff, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote the first time around.
Vitter, who has maintained a strong money lead throughout the race, has maintained that edge and has the most left to spend in the campaign’s final stretch.
His formal report had not yet been uploaded to the state Ethics Board website late Thursday, but his campaign announced that he has more than $4 million left in his campaign coffers.
Dardenne’s campaign, meanwhile, reported having $1.62 million cash on hand, followed by Edwards with $1.38 million and Angelle with just over $1 million.
For the most recent reporting period, Edwards raised the most with $841,974 in cash and in-kind contributions, followed by Vitter with $838,256, Angelle at $619,962 and Dardenne at $376,345.
This year’s race has seen an infusion of spending from outside groups seeking to boost or diminish various candidates’ chances.
The pro-Vitter Fund for Louisiana’s Future raised $138,276.40 during the reporting period and spent $1.41 million. The biggest single donation — $50,000 — came from a Florida-based dental benefits administrator. The fund had $3.1 million left heading into the final stretch of the election.
Louisiana Rising PAC, which is backing Angelle, raised $1.1 million — $1 million of that from Texas oil and gas executive James Flores. The PAC spent $233,694 last period, and ended with $1.1 million left.
And the pro-Dardenne Now or Never PAC has mostly depleted its resources after spending $150,914 during the reporting period. It reported $8,911 on hand.
Two groups that have targeted Vitter spent more than $850,000 on their efforts over the past two months — much of that through the Louisiana Water Coalition, which has run TV and radio ads across the state against Vitter.
That group revealed for the first time the source of its funding: Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, a Baton Rouge law firm that has taken on several environmental cases, including Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish wetland cases versus oil companies.
The other group, GumboPAC, reported just $12,416.67 in donations for the reporting period, but reported a large infusion of cash — mostly from law firms — in a report that was filed last month, after the last deadline.
GumboPAC reported $84,628.54 cash on hand heading into the final stretch, while the Water Coalition PAC ended the reporting period with $304,259 cash.
Now or Never also accepted $5,000 in research from GumboPAC, the records show.
Other statewide races
- East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Kip Holden is lagging in fundraising and dollars available for his bid to become lieutenant governor. Holden, the only Democrat in the four-man race, reported about $87,000 available for spending. He raised about $38,000 in the past two months.
That’s compared with Republican Jefferson Parish President John Young’s war chest, which has $1.9 million headed toward the primary election. Contributions to Young during the period hit $230,000.
Former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser had $620,000 cash on hand after spending $1.14 million during the past two months. State Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas’s report was not available.
- Republican Secretary of State Tom Schedler had a wide fundraising lead on his sole opponent, Democrat Chris Tyson. Schedler reported $457,768 in cash on hand, after raising just over $90,000 in the past two months. One of his contributions came from U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s Eye of the Tiger PAC. Tyson’s report showed $86,000 available for spending. During the period, Tyson raised about $62,000 and received $47,260 in loans.
- Two challengers to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s re-election each reported loaning their campaigns cash.
Jeff Landry, of New Iberia, has $1.4 million in cash on hand leading into the final weeks of the primary campaign, including $370,000 in new personal loans. H
e raised just over $260,000 during the period.
Marty Maley, of Baton Rouge, loaned his campaign $123,000 during the period — most of it going to buy TV ads. He ended the period with $5,800.
Caldwell has $1.15 million, with no loans reported in this statement, though he loaned his campaign $200,000 in July before this reporting period. He raised $178,500 in the past two months.
Caldwell, Landry and Maley are all Republicans.
- In the insurance commissioner’s race, incumbent Jim Donelon reported $336,146 in cash on hand while one of his challengers, Matt Parker, of West Monroe, registered $48,000, including $11,000 in loans.
- Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain made a $500,000 personal loan to his re-election campaign, pushing his war chest to the $1 million mark.
State Treasurer John Kennedy’s report was not available.