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Louisiana candidates for governor show their donor numbers

February 16, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Late to enter the Louisiana governor’s race, Republican U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham has some catching up to do on the fundraising front.

Abraham has less personal wealth than his GOP competitor Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman and longtime political donor, and nowhere near the millions that Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards raised over three years in office.

As Friday’s deadline hit for candidates to turn in their latest campaign fundraising reports, all eyes were awaiting Abraham’s numbers. The report showed $350,000 raised and in the bank through the 2018 fundraising period.

Edwards and Rispone earlier released preliminary figures and filed their official reports Friday. Edwards is sitting on an $8.4 million bank account ahead of the Oct. 12 election. Rispone, a first-time office-seeker, reported $5.5 million , including $5 million of his own money and another $550,000 he raised from donors since announcing his campaign in October.

But Abraham, a third-time congressman and doctor from rural northeast Louisiana, only had three weeks from announcing his campaign on Dec. 6 to raise money before reaching the Dec. 31 reporting deadline. His political consultant Lionel Rainey said Abraham has kept up the $100,000-plus per week pace since then.

“We haven’t slowed at all. Momentum’s only building, and we are very happy with the place that we are in right now,” Rainey said in an interview. “We know without question that we will have enough money to run this race.”

Edwards supporters said Abraham sat on his fundraising numbers for so long because he didn’t want to showcase such poor figures. The Louisiana Democratic Party called it a “tepid start.”

“Rep. Abraham’s weak fundraising is representative of his weak support across Louisiana. Ralph Abraham has tried as hard as possible to gin up support for his floundering campaign, even skipping important votes in DC to attend fundraisers. Unfortunately for him, Louisianans just aren’t interested,” Democratic Party spokesman Eric Holl said in a statement.

Rainey said the numbers should be anything but discouraging, showing that Abraham raised large sums quickly amid questions about how committed the congressman would be to fundraising for the race.

“I think that question has been answered. Yes, he’s got the ability to raise money, a significant amount,” Rainey said.

Abraham has personal wealth that he also could tap into to help finance his campaign, but not necessarily the millions available to Rispone, who has said he intends to spend all the money he poured into his campaign account.

Still, Abraham will have the support of an outside super PAC that hadn’t yet reported its money in the bank by Friday evening.

The pro-Edwards Gumbo PAC reported it was sitting on a $2.1 million bank account in the latest fundraising period to spend on efforts to help the Democratic incumbent win re-election.

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

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