BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's most recent governor's race appears to be the most expensive in state history as unfettered spending from outside political groups boosted total campaign spending to $50 million, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.
The reports, filed with the state ethics administration office, document dollars poured into the November runoff competition won by Democrat John Bel Edwards, who will be sworn into office Monday, and the wrap up of the campaign cycle.
The four major candidates who sought the governorship — Edwards, Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter — spent a combined $29.7 million on their campaign efforts.
They accounted for about 59 percent of the total campaign spending, with Edwards and his runoff opponent Vitter each spending more than $11 million in their election bids, according to campaign finance reports. Angelle spent nearly $4 million for the primary, and Dardenne $3.3 million.
While Vitter and Edwards mirrored spending levels overall, Edwards' money largely was poured into the runoff competition. Vitter was outspent in the runoff, as he used millions earlier in his campaign to fend off his GOP opponents and secure a spot on the Nov. 21 ballot.
Political action committees, newly freed from previous donor contribution limits, pumped another $20.3 million into activities aimed at supporting or opposing the gubernatorial contenders, or about 41 percent of the total.
The previous high-water mark in Louisiana governor's race spending came in 2007, when the four major candidates spent a combined $32 million on their campaigns. Term-limited Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican who Edwards will follow into office, won that election. Two wealthy businessmen, John Georges and Walter Boasso, pumped millions of their personal wealth into their unsuccessful campaigns.
PACs played a limited role in that 2007 election cycle — but that was before a state law that had capped contributions to political action committees at $100,000 for each four-year election cycle was thrown out by a federal judge. The ruling allowed newly-created super PACs to raise and spend unlimited sums and they proliferated in the 2015 governor's race.
A half-dozen groups spent millions on TV advertising and mail pieces to influence the election's outcome, supporting or opposing a particular candidate. Super PACs are barred from coordinating with a candidate, however.
The highest-spending super PAC was the pro-Vitter Fund for Louisiana's Future, which paid $7.5 million on its campaign efforts according to campaign finance documents, mainly attacks on Angelle and Dardenne in the primary and Edwards in the runoff.
Two groups that formed to oppose Vitter's candidacy devoted more than $5 million to their efforts. The Louisiana Water Coalition PAC, which had one law firm as its donor, spent nearly $2 million. Gumbo PAC, which was primarily financed by the Democratic Governors Association, spent $3.5 million.
The Republican Governors Association used its PAC to attack Edwards, a $3 million endeavor.
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Posted on Fri, January 8, 2016
by MELINDA DESLATTE Associated Press