Abraham Keeps Racking Up Local GOP Endorsements; Do They Matter?

The short answer to that question is yes; maybe. This week a pair of Republican Parish Executive Committees announced endorsements for Ralph Abraham as a gubernatorial candidate, something which continues a fairly significant trend in advance of the Oct. 12 primary in which Abraham will take on Eddie Rispone and incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards in the Louisiana governor’s race.

Yesterday it was the Acadia Parish committee endorsing Abraham…

BATON ROUGE, La – The Acadia Republican Parish Executive Committee has endorsed Ralph Abraham to be the next governor of Louisiana. Ralph Abraham has also been endorsed by the St. Tammany, Jefferson, Rapides, St. Charles, Bossier, and St. Landry Republican Parish Executive Committees. Ralph Abraham was the only candidate who received the sole endorsement of the Acadia RPEC over another Republican candidate.

“We’re with Ralph Abraham because he’s someone who has faced the same challenges that we have in our community. Having been a farmer, small business owner, and veteran, he knows the problems that our rural community faces and the struggles that we’ve had under John Bel Edwards.” – Acadia RPEC Chairman, Luke Dupre

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of the Acadia Parish Republican Executive Committee. Louisiana’s conservatives understand that we must and we will be united against John Bel Edwards.” – Ralph Abraham, leading Republican candidate for Louisiana Governor

And on Monday it was the St. Tammany PEC endorsing Abraham…

BATON ROUGE, La – The St. Tammany Republican Parish Executive Committee has endorsed Ralph Abraham to be the next governor of Louisiana. Ralph Abraham has also been endorsed by the Jefferson Parish, Rapides Parish, St. Charles Parish, Bossier Parish, and St. Landry Parish Republican Executive Committees.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of the St. Tammany Parish Republican Executive Committee. Conservatives across Louisiana are uniting behind our campaign, and St. Tammany is a critical component to our victory in November.” – Ralph Abraham, leading Republican candidate for Louisiana Governor

St. Tammany might be the more interesting of the two, for a couple of reasons. First, it takes a 2/3rds vote of that Parish Executive Committee to generate an endorsement, and second, St. Tammany is considered something of a bellwether for GOP candidates in this race. Earlier this year, Rispone held a couple of fundraisers there and rolled in some impressive results, and that was thought to be indicative of momentum for him. It’s a common-sense expectation that Rispone, hailing from relatively nearby Baton Rouge, would have some strength in St. Tammany.

But if two thirds of the St. Tammany RPEC is voting to endorse Abraham, it could be that he’s doing a better job of local organization than Rispone is. That he’s also picked up endorsements of the PEC’s in Jefferson and St. Charles, plus the co-endorsement of the Orleans RPEC, who followed the four LABI PAC’s and the state GOP in supporting both candidates, indicates Abraham has more strength in the New Orleans area than you might expect from a North Louisiana congressman.

But it’s tough to tell whether the St. Tammany or Acadia RPEC endorsements will translate into a good ground game or widespread public support among the voters. Sometimes those RPEC endorsements really will move votes; other times they don’t help at all. The East Baton Rouge RPEC, for example, has a reputation for being a kiss of death when giving endorsements – in 2014, the EBRRP co-endorsed Lenar Whitney, Dan Claitor and Paul Dietzel for the open local congressional seat, and none of the three made the runoff, so as you can imagine Garret Graves wouldn’t suggest wasting too much time trying to get that endorsement.

That’s why it’s tough to say these RPEC’s make a big difference in a gubernatorial race. But with the last few public polls we’ve seen showing that Rispone’s sizable TV blitz has boosted his name recognition and made the Republican side of the race competitive, both candidates will need every advantage they can get. Gathering support from local Republican officials, as Abraham has, could be one way to build an organization which turns out more of its vote than Rispone’s primarily paid media-driven campaign will.

It’s too soon to tell, and it’s also too soon to know whether the ground game or air war will be decisive on Oct. 12.

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