Edwards and Jindal stock

File photos of Gov. John Bel Edwards and Bobby Jindal

As Republican candidate Eddie Rispone says at every opportunity: “Bobby Jindal isn’t on the ballot.”

But the former Republican governor’s aura is floating all around this fall’s election for governor.

Criticizing Jindal’s 2008-2016 term is the centerpiece in the reelection campaign of Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards.

And television is airing a flood of anti-Edwards commercials that have been made for the nation’s 27 Republican governors by a firm in which Jindal’s top aide is a partner.

The Republican Governors’ Association Right Direction PAC, headquartered a block from the White House, is spending more than $3 million to run six different commercials, since July 9, that excoriate Edwards for many positions with which the GOP finds fault.

A rare Democrat, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards sells centrism in run for reelection

The PAC spent $1.75 million, mostly in television ads, over the summer. OnMessage, the firm in which Timmy Teepell is a partner, was paid $29,800 for “media production” through Sept.2 and another $163,428 for polling, according to Federal Elections Commission.

Teepell directed Jindal’s winning campaign for governor in 2007 and was the first chief of staff. He remains a close confidante of Jindal’s.

Teepell referred questions to the PAC’s spokesperson, Amelia Chassé Alcivar, who refused to comment on the Republican Governors’ Association vendors but poo-pooed contentions that the RGA was involved in any form of retribution against Edwards for his relentless criticism of Jindal.

“I reject the notion of any type of payback,” said Chassé Alcivar, noting that the RGA staffers are different now than when Jindal was governor.

“It’s very hard for an incumbent to run on anything but their own record,” she said.

The RGA is spending about $1 million for the last month of the campaign – about $2 million was spent since July – mostly on television stations around the state.

For instance, Republican governors bought 52 spots on the Baton Rouge Fox affiliate, WGMB-TV, with up to six commercials on some days. They also bought similar schedules on Baton Rouge’s three other commercial broadcast channels and half dozen cable-exclusive channels, as well as the cable, satellite and streaming services that include hundreds of channels. Similar buys were made in New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport and other media markets, according to the FCC.

“We sense this as an opportunity to elect a Republican,” she said. “And he (Edwards) is significantly more liberal (than the state’s voters) and either of the Republican candidates can make Louisiana more competitive again. …We’re neutral, but both (GOP) candidates have articulated a pro-growth vision for the state and to galvanize Louisianans.”

Republicans control 27 governorships – 23 for the Democrats – though the majority of Americans live in states ruled by Democratic governors.

Fourteen state chief executives are up for election next year, but only three this fall.

Kentucky and Mississippi are reliably Republican. Louisiana is the only blue blotch for the 1,715 miles across a Deep South red from the Charleston, S.C. to El Paso, Texas.

Edwards also is the only Democrat elected statewide in a state where nearly 400,000 more voters backed Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 presidential election. Trump whipped Clinton, attracting 20 percent more votes in an election where 68 percent – more than 2 million – of the registered voters participated.

Edwards, Rispone and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-Alto, are spending about $12 million for the final stretch. More than a dozen outside special interests, like the RGA PAC, are reporting to the Federal Communications Commission their purchases of tens of millions of dollars more in advertising that will criticize or lionize one or the other candidates during the final two weeks before the Oct. 12 election.

Early voting started Saturday, takes Sunday off and continues Monday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Saturday, Oct. 5. Election day is Oct. 12 and if no one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the ballots, the top two vote-getters meet again in a Nov. 16 runoff.

The RGA’s anti-Edwards commercials are here:

Email Mark Ballard at mballard@theadvocate.com.