Eddie Rispone is launching his first statewide TV ad blitz in the Louisiana governor’s race with a spot praising President Donald Trump and again hitting on illegal immigration, as he begins spending some of his nearly $10 million war chest in earnest.
Rispone, a wealthy Baton Rouge businessman who has loaned his campaign more than $10 million, is one of two Republicans challenging Gov. John Bel Edwards – the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.
The TV ad, titled “Eddie Stands with President Trump,” is backed by more than $1 million in spending, and will begin airing Tuesday, the campaign said. It bills the Republican as a “conservative outsider” and a Trump supporter, and ends with a photo of Rispone next to Trump.
“I’m Eddie Rispone. I supported President Trump against Hillary, gave him money, put a bumper sticker on my truck and I support our President more than ever, against these liberal lunatics running now,” Rispone says in the 30-second spot.
A longtime GOP donor, Rispone is the co-founder of the industrial firm ISC Constructors.
He has trailed both Edwards and Congressman Ralph Abraham, of Alto, the other Republican candidate, in the polls. But he also holds a large funding advantage over Abraham, and led all candidates with $9.8 million in the bank at the end of the second reporting quarter, most of it loaned from his personal bank account. Abraham posted $1.3 million. Edwards had $9.6 million, after a three-month fundraising blackout period during and after the legislative session.
While Edwards is trying to bring former Gov. Bobby Jindal to the forefront of the governor's race, the Republicans – especially Rispone – are trumpeting Trump. The Republican Governors Association went on TV shortly after Edwards with an ad claiming Louisiana is being left behind from a Trump-fueled economic boom.
Before the Rispone campaign unveiled details of the ad Monday, American Bridge 21st Century, a political action committee dedicated to attacking Republican politicians, was up with a video online claiming "Eddie Rispone loves Bobby Jindal" and highlighting past comments the two made about each other.
Rispone's ad also represents the latest diatribe from the Rispone campaign on immigration, which has traditionally not been a campaign issue in a state where only 4% of residents are foreign born, and even fewer are unauthorized. Last week, Rispone's campaign put out a newspaper ad that said if elected, "Louisiana will stand with President Trump" to "build the wall," and called New Orleans a "sanctuary city." The ad also said he would not "put up with ANTIFA lawlessness," referring to the left-wing activists, or "tolerate replacing the American flag at government buildings with Mexican ones," an apparent reference to an Aurora, Colorado immigration detention facility.
In the TV ad, Rispone says, "as governor, I will work with President Trump to protect our constitutional rights, to ban sanctuary cities, and end taxpayer benefits for illegal immigrants in Louisiana."
The U.S. Department of Justice under Trump previously made similar claims that New Orleans was a so-called "sanctuary city" before clarifying in a letter to the former Mayor Mitch Landrieu administration that it was not one.
Rispone's TV ad will run for two weeks, according to the campaign, and will run in every media market. The campaign said it would commercials on television through election day, Oct. 12.
The ad makes Rispone the second candidate to go on TV with a statewide ad buy, after Gov. John Bel Edwards began blitzing the airwaves two weeks ago with an ad that contrasted the state’s current budget surplus with the budget deficit he inherited from Jindal.
While he's had limited interaction with the media, Rispone has overtly tied himself to Trump during the campaign. In a digital ad the campaign released recently, Rispone is described as a “strong Trump supporter” and says, “we just have to support him in every way we can and be outspoken about it.”