BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Donors still reeling from Louisiana's expensive U.S. Senate race are being asked to open their wallets again, for the state's looming governor's race. And that, too, is shaping up to be a high-spending contest.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter appears to be raking in the most cash so far, raising $4 million since kicking off his candidacy last January. The Republican senator's campaign announced this week it will report $3.5 million in his campaign account for the period that ended Dec. 31.
Vitter described himself in a statement as "incredibly honored and humbled by the support."
Also showing formidable fundraising ability for the Oct. 24 election is Republican Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, who says he raised $1.5 million for a campaign he announced only three months ago.
"In a 91-day period including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, as well as a federal and local election cycle, we have worked tirelessly and exceeded all of our goals and the political insiders' and pundits' expectations," Angelle, of Breaux Bridge, said in a statement.
The third GOP contender in the race, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, hasn't yet announced how much money he raised over the last year. Fundraising reports for 2014 are due to the state's ethics administration office in February.
The lone Democrat running so far, state Rep. John Bel Edwards, said he's raised more than $1 million and estimates he needs to bring in another $2 million to get his message out before the October election. Edwards, D-Amite, said he expects purse strings will loosen with donors now that Louisiana's high-dollar Senate race has wrapped up.
Democrat Mary Landrieu spent $18.6 million on her losing re-election bid, while Republican Bill Cassidy paid out $14.7 million for his successful campaign. Millions more were spent by outside groups.
"You had Mary Landrieu and Bill Cassidy soaking up a lot of the money and that was true all the way through the end of the year. And that had a lot to do with the difficulty with fundraising across both sides of the aisle," Edwards said Wednesday.
"Fundraising is never easy and it's certainly not the most pleasant part of a campaign, but I believe it will be easier now," he said.
Vitter is the front-runner in the race, and he's got added help on top of his own campaign coffers from a political action committee created to boost his candidacy.
The Fund for Louisiana's Future has raised $3.9 million since it was created in 2013 and reported having more than $3 million of it still in the bank to independently advocate for Vitter's bid for governor.
The Republican senator has used the PAC to get around Louisiana's prohibitions against transferring dollars from a federal campaign account to a state one. Vitter donated at least $840,000 from his U.S. Senate campaign account to the Fund for Louisiana's Future, which can then use it to boost Vitter's gubernatorial candidacy.
Meanwhile, the field of candidates remains in flux. Speculation continues that Democratic New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu could jump into the race. On the Republican side, state Treasurer John Kennedy, who's sitting on a $3 million campaign account, still is considering the race, and Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain said he's weighing a campaign.
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Posted on Fri, January 16, 2015
by Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press