- Associated Press - Monday, July 27, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Republicans are outraising Democrats in Louisiana’s top two races on the Oct. 24 ballot, for governor and lieutenant governor - and pouring more of their own money into their competitions as well, according to the latest campaign reports.

The GOP has been the more dominant political force in state politics in recent years, with Republicans holding every statewide office. Democrats are hoping to end the string of GOP victories, but they continue to lag in fundraising efforts.

Reports outlining campaign donations and spending for the latest quarter, from April 18 through July 16, were due to the state ethics board Monday.

In the governor’s race, Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter reported raising $1.3 million, GOP Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle brought in $413,000 and Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne received $408,000 from donors in the most recent period.

Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards, by comparison, reported $246,000 in contributions.

Vitter is the juggernaut in fundraising, sitting atop $5 million in his campaign account. In a statement, he described himself as “thrilled and humbled” by the support.

A separate political action committee created to boost Vitter’s candidacy, the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, reported $4.4 million in its account to independently advocate for the senator.

Vitter’s donated $950,000 from his U.S. Senate campaign account to the PAC, an end-around Louisiana’s prohibitions against transferring dollars from a federal campaign account to a state one.

As candidate activity ratchets up, Dardenne’s in the next best cash position, though far behind Vitter. Dardenne’s report showed nearly $1.9 million in his campaign account.

“We are running a very disciplined campaign, spending what we can afford to spend so we can be competitive as the race intensifies,” Dardenne said in a statement.

Angelle is spending so heavily that he and Edwards have similar cash on hand, just over $1 million - and that’s after Angelle loaned his campaign $375,000, with $122,000 from his own personal funds and the remaining $253,000 borrowed from a bank.

Though his Republican challengers have more resources for their campaigns, polls currently show Edwards expected to grab a November runoff spot as GOP contenders split Republican support.

“We’re running an efficient, winning campaign,” Edwards said in a statement.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Democrat Kip Holden reported total receipts of about $52,000 while Republican candidate John Young raised $348,000 and GOP contender Billy Nungesser raised $160,000 and loaned his campaign another $500,000.

Young, the Jefferson Parish president, had the heftiest bank account, showing nearly $2.3 million cash on hand. Nungesser, a former Plaquemines Parish president, reported $1.6 million in his campaign account. Holden, the mayor of Baton Rouge, ended the period with $68,000.

Republican state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas also has said he intends to run for lieutenant governor, but his campaign finance report wasn’t online by Monday evening.

In other filings for statewide races:

-GOP Treasurer John Kennedy continues to sit on one of the heftiest campaign accounts in the state, reporting $3.7 million in the bank with no announced opponents.

-Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, reported raising $62,000 and ending the period with $398,000 in the bank. Democratic challenger Chris Tyson, a law professor, took in $96,000 in contributions, loaned himself $10,000 and ended with $80,000 cash on hand.

-Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, a Republican, said he took in more than $190,000 and closed the period with nearly $543,000 cash on hand. Challenger Matt Parker reported nearly $18,000 in contributions, a $1,200 loan and just under $27,000 cash on hand.

-Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain, a Republican, reported taking in nearly $40,000 in contributions and wrapping up the period with $502,000. Challenger Jamie LaBranche, who ran against Strain four years ago as a Democrat, reported no fundraising activity.

___

Online:

Campaign finance reports viewable at: https://ethics.la.gov/CampFinanHome.aspx

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