Edwards has $8.4M for re-election efforts

BATON ROUGE (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, seeking to hold onto his seat as the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor, is kicking off his re-election bid with nearly $8.4 million in the bank for the race, his campaign announced Tuesday.
The governor will report raising nearly $3.8 million over the last year when he files his campaign fundraising report with Louisiana’s ethics administration office, the Edwards campaign told The Associated Press.
“It is one of the greatest honors of my life to serve as governor of Louisiana, and I am humbled by the support my family and I have received from the people of our great state,” Edwards said in a statement. “We have come so far over the last three years, and our state is headed in the right direction.”
Edwards’ fundraising grew from the prior year, when he raised about $2 million in 2017. But his cash on hand lags that of his predecessor, Republican Bobby Jindal, who had $9.2 million in the bank at the same period when he was running for a second term in 2011.
Two Republicans so far have announced they intend to challenge Edwards on the October ballot: U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a third-term congressman from rural northeast Louisiana, and wealthy Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, a longtime Republican political donor and first-time office-seeker.
Edwards’ formidable fundraising haul is expected to place him ahead of his competitors, who only launched their campaigns and started seeking donations in the final few months of the year. Rispone announced his intentions in October, while Abraham waited until last month.
Rispone has said he will put $5 million or more of his own cash into jumpstarting his campaign, but Abraham will have to rely more heavily on donors. Neither has released finance figures yet.
Still, millions of dollars in outside PAC and special interest money is expected to flood the Louisiana governor’s race this year as well, from Democrats who want Edwards to hang onto the seat and Republicans who think Edwards’ previous victory was a fluke in a red state where every other statewide elected official is in the GOP.
That unknown quantity of outsider cash could heavily influence a candidate’s chances.
Campaign finance reports outlining donations and expenses for 2018 are due to the ethics administration office by Feb. 15.
Edwards’ campaign said its report, which hasn’t been filed yet, will show more than 87 percent of the money raised last year came from Louisiana donors and more than half of the people who contributed gave small-dollar donations of less than $250.

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