- Associated Press - Thursday, October 20, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - In the brawl between the top two Democratic contenders in Louisiana’s U.S. Senate race, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell appears to have stronger financial footing than lawyer Caroline Fayard for the final push to Election Day.

Campbell’s latest campaign finance report, posted by the Federal Election Commission this week, shows the elected state utility regulator with $988,000 cash on hand at the close of the latest reporting period, ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Fayard’s report showed her with less than $200,000 in her campaign account.

The Democrats are considered to be two of the top five candidates among 24 vying for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican David Vitter. GOP contenders include U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, U.S. Rep. John Fleming and state Treasurer John Kennedy.

Though all candidates regardless of party run against each other on the ballot, Campbell and Fayard seem as though they are in a mini-primary, anticipating that only one Democrat likely can reach the December runoff. Campbell’s attacks have targeted Fayard more than any other contender, and Fayard has responded with her own jabs at Campbell.

They’re largely competing over the same pool of endorsements - and contributors.

Campbell has raised $877,000 from donors for the cycle, compared to $660,000 for Fayard. Both contenders have loaned their campaigns money as well. But Fayard has spent her cash faster, leaving her with significantly fewer dollars than Campbell had when the fundraising quarter ended Sept. 30.

“We’re going to have what we need to continue to bring our message of fighting for the people, not the powerful, to every voter,” Campbell said in a statement. “We’ve been smart with our donors’ money because I know a lot of people who can’t afford to give much have sacrificed to send in $10 or $20.”

Fayard’s finance director, Jordan Mitchell, said the campaign isn’t concerned that it won’t have enough money to compete ahead of Election Day.

“We’re not finished raising money, not by a long shot. As major Democrats continue to coalesce around Caroline, we’re also seeing small-donor contributions begin to roll in at an accelerated pace,” Mitchell said. “Our biggest grass-roots week was in the last seven days. The campaign is peaking at exactly the right moment.”

Defend Louisiana PAC, a political action committee allied with Campbell, reported about $160,000 in the bank at the end of the fundraising quarter to advocate for the Democratic contender, while Lagniappe PAC, aimed at boosting Fayard’s candidacy, showed $2.27 on hand.

Among Republicans, Boustany’s campaign reported having more than $1 million in the bank as the period wrapped up. Air Force Col. Rob Maness had $201,000 in his campaign account. Updated reports weren’t immediately available on the FEC website from Kennedy or Fleming, and neither campaign provided the reports to The Associated Press when asked about them.

Super PACs are supporting those GOP contenders as well.

There was little or no fundraising activity reported by most other candidates, including no report listed for white supremacist David Duke, a Republican who has lagged in the polls.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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