Abraham And Rispone Both Argue They’re The Best-Positioned Challenger To JBE Based On Fundraising…

…and you’d be justified in buying the arguments of either one, as both of them make reasonable points. Here was the argument of the Rispone camp, put out in an email by fundraising coordinator Sally Nungesser to donors this morning…

Following the filing of campaign reports yesterday, Eddie Rispone has more money in the bank than Governor Edwards. This is a remarkable thing for any Republican to be able to say at this stage of the race.

At the end of this reporting period:

  • Eddie Rispone for Governor has $10.4 million cash on hand;
  • Gov. Edwards has $10.2 million cash on hand; and,
  • Congressman Ralph Abraham has $1 million cash on hand.

Eddie is all-in with his time, energy, and resources in his run for Governor.  He has built a professional fundraising operation that can compete with Governor Edwards. He is actively raising money in every corner of our state and has surpassed 1,000 individual Louisiana donors.

Cash on hand: $10,426,783.73
Money raised to date: $1,163,546.19
Parishes that contributed to campaign: 52 out of 64
Percent contributions from Louisiana: 98%
Percent grassroots contributions, below $200: 55%
Members of The Pelican Club (give/raise $5,000): 165 individuals

Conclusion

Governor Edwards and his liberal allies will spend nearly $20 million in this race.

Eddie is the only Republican who will have the money to defeat him and has committed to do whatever it takes to make sure that this campaign has the resources to win.

Eddie is the right candidate, at the right time, for Louisiana. He is a conservative outsider and that puts him in an excellent position to defeat career politician Gov. Edwards.

Eddie Rispone is building a campaign that can win. Thank you for being an early member of his team. Eddie is counting on your help to continue growing our fundraising operation. Please let me know if you have any fundraising ideas or would like to host an event for Eddie in your neighborhood.

And here was the Abraham camp’s argument, as expressed in a press release by campaign spokesman David Weinman…

The Ralph Abraham campaign for governor raised nearly $800,000 in the first quarter of 2019, significantly more than the nearest Republican challenger.

At the end of the reporting period, the Abraham campaign holds more than $1 million cash on hand and only spent $140,044 in 2019. This is more money raised and less money spent than Jay Dardenne and Scott Angelle during the same period in the 2015 gubernatorial election, and nearly four times the amount raised by the John Bel Edwards campaign at this point in 2015.

“I’m very happy about the position our campaign is in. We’re more than 20 points ahead of our closest Republican challenger and within the margin of error with Governor Edwards – and it’s only April. Without question, we will have enough money to run a campaign that gives hope to the families of Louisiana that they do not have to suffer under the job-killing, over-taxing regime of our current governor any longer. The people of this state want leadership. They want to know you will tell them the truth and will fight for them. That’s what we offer, and that’s why we will win,” said Ralph Abraham, the leading Republican candidate for governor.

In recent polling by the Remington Research Group, Ralph Abraham led his nearest Republican challenger by more than 20 points.

As we said, these are both pretty good arguments.

Rispone’s $10.4 million in the bank tops Edwards’ $10.2 million, making this a very unusual race – you simply aren’t going to find a challenger who can show more money in the bank than an incumbent some six months before the primary very often. That almost never happens – if a challenger does outraise an incumbent it usually happens late, and it’s usually the result of some serious weakness on the part of that incumbent.

This isn’t a normal situation, though. Rispone’s campaign stash is predicated on his giving his campaign some $9 million of his own money – which the Edwards camp and the state’s mainstream media are busy decrying as illegitimate as it relates to how much support Rispone actually has and/or how much of that number he’ll actually spend.

But nobody among them ever asked that question before when moneybags self-funding candidates like John Georges, Walter Boasso and Buddy Leach ran for governor.

The fact is that Rispone could spend that $9 million, and $9 million more, if he wanted to and saw it as worthwhile. He could do that without a second thought, because he’s that successful. The question is whether his campaign can begin attracting voters en masse once he goes up on TV. And nobody knows what the effect of his impending air game will be. It could completely flop and not connect with voters, in which case Rispone might end up dropping out of the race, or it could be a hit and turn him into the proverbial snowball rolling down a hill which takes out Abraham and Edwards on the way to the governor’s mansion.

We really don’t know what will happen. Nobody knows.

Meanwhile Abraham’s argument is that he’s got more money than anybody had in the bank this time four years ago outside of David Vitter, and Vitter didn’t win that race. In fact, Abraham has quadruple what Edwards had four years ago at this point and Edwards ended up winning.

That is spot on, and it’s a good refutation of this narrative among the Democrats and some Republicans that somehow the fact Edwards is sitting on $10.2 million and Abraham only has about a million bucks means that Abraham can’t raise money and can’t beat Edwards. Maybe Abraham can’t beat the governor, but money won’t be the reason – the minute Abraham starts showing polls which have him on top of Edwards in a head to head race he’s going to raise plenty of money, and he almost showed that in the last Remington poll he put out. In fact, had the polling sample been identical to the electorate in the November 2015 runoff election in which Edwards beat Vitter, Abraham would have been ahead of Edwards.

And should Abraham emerge as the GOP’s best bet to win the race, something which won’t happen until voters become more engaged and the election gets closer, he’s going to start pulling in donations from the usual subjects many of whom are sitting back at the moment in an effort to size up Abraham and Rispone as potential horses in the race. Abraham’s campaign consultant Lionel Rainey, moreover, won a pair of statewide races for Treasurer in 2017 and Secretary of State in 2018 with a whole lot less total money to spend than the million bucks he currently has to work with, though obviously not against that $10.2 million Edwards has. Abraham has enough money to get his message out at this stage.

They’re both valid arguments. Neither one changes what really will decide this race – namely, which one of the two emerges as the more effective carrier of the Republican message against Edwards. And it’s far too early to know that just yet.

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