Increasingly, Lt. Gov. Race Looks Like Dardenne Vs. Fayard

There hasn’t been a new public poll out on the Lieutenant Governor’s race, the jungle primary for which is eight days away, but if fundraising numbers and media buys are any indication of support levels – and they are admittedly imperfect gauges of same – one gets the impression that there are two candidates likely to emerge from the primary and face each other in the runoff on Nov. 2.

Those two candidates are Republican Jay Dardenne and Democrat Caroline Fayard.

Fundraising numbers published by the Associated Press yesterday indicate Dardenne, the sitting Secretary of State in Louisiana, still outpaces the field in terms of resources. Dardenne, who has raised over a million dollars over the course of the campaign, is sitting on $536,000 in cash on hand. He raised $72,000 between Aug. 24 and Sept. 12 and spent $279,000, mostly on radio and TV ads statewide.

Fayard actually outraised Dardenne during the Aug. 24-Sept. 12 reporting period, reeling in $122,000. She also outspent Dardenne, shoveling $316,000 out the door on various items – including heavy media buys in the New Orleans area and, interestingly enough, on 27 separate line items for “canvassing” to individuals with New Orleans addresses. Fayard’s strategy appears quite clear – she is angling to capture as much of the African-American vote in New Orleans as possible in the primary, in hopes of riding that support into the runoff. No other candidate in the race is poised to successfully compete for that vote, so it’s a good strategy for Fayard. She claims $246,000 in cash on hand.

Incidentally, Fayard’s activity level in New Orleans is bad news for Republican 2nd District congressman Joseph Cao, whose fate in his re-election campaign against Democrat state rep Cedric Richmond quite likely depends on the composition of the turnout on Nov. 2. Without another candidate on the ballot that day capable of generating buzz within the black community – and Democrat senate challenger Charlie Melancon, who according to a Magellan Strategies poll earlier this week is only getting 72 percent of the black vote against Sen. David Vitter and the other minor candidates in the race, doesn’t appear to be a particular threat in that regard – Cao’s chances of winning against Richmond are good. But if Fayard makes the runoff and pours money along the Mary Landrieu/Buddy Leach model into that segment, it’s going to help Richmond a great deal and could sink Cao’s re-election hopes.

Sammy Kershaw appears to be the next most well-funded candidate, though Kershaw’s activity during the Aug. 24-Sept. 12 period was almost non-existent. The country singer-turned-2nd-time-candidate lists $82,000 in cash on hand, while claiming receipts of $28,000 and expenditures of only $1,100.

St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis’ report shows $52,000 in receipts and $46,000 in expenditures for the period. Davis says he has $36,000 in cash on hand.

New Iberia Democrat Butch Gautreaux’s report for Sept. 12 says he has $29,000 in cash on hand, spending some $13,000 between Sept. 1 and Sept. 12. Gautreaux only took in $2,100 during that period; on a report he filed on Sept. 1 he had listed an intake of $112,000 and expenditures of $74,000.

And state GOP chairman Roger Villere, surprisingly, has less cash on hand than any of the other major candidates in the race. Villere listed only $7,800 in his war chest, having had receipts of about $14,000 against expenditures of $17,000.

Other factors outside of money coming in and going out can certainly affect performance on Election Day. But based on the enormous spread between Dardenne and Fayard and the rest of the field, there is a strong appearance that those two are the candidates to beat on Oct. 2.



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