This is always a fun week at the outset of statewide election years, because this week candidates for the races being contested in the fall have to disclose how much money they’re raising and spending.
Ideally, particularly if you’re running for one of the races at the top of the ballot – like, in the case we’re discussing, governor – you’ve declared several months ago and you’ve been building up a campaign war chest, so while what you show in cash on hand won’t necessarily be the largest number you’ll be able brag about, it’ll be pretty high. After all, at this point you can expect your burn rate to increase fairly significantly. You’ll have to start hiring and paying campaign staff, you might well be placing ads on the web and with radio and TV stations, you’re going to crank up a yard sign operation soon, and so on.
You’ve been exclusively raising money so far. You’ll keep doing that through the summer, and you might well raise more than you’ve got. But so far these campaigns haven’t really been spending money. That’s about to change.
In Jeff Landry’s case it already has. Landry, who so far is the frontrunner in the race at least where the money is concerned, has raised an astonishing $11 million through his campaign account and associated political action committees. His campaign put out a statement bragging a little about that figure and the $8 million he’s currently got on hand…
Today, Jeff Landry has announced that among the various committees that he raises money for—Landry for Louisiana, the Victory Fund of the Louisiana Republican Party, and Cajun PAC II—he has over $8 million cash on hand. In his campaign fund, Landry for Louisiana, he has $6 million cash on hand after having raised over $11 million cycle-to-date.
“I am extremely humbled by the outpouring of support from folks across our state,” said Jeff Landry. “With our campaign continuing to produce robust fundraising numbers every month, it’s clear that people are investing in who they believe will do the best job as Louisiana’s next Governor.”
Landry’s campaign is the big mover of the group. From January 1 through April 7, his campaign account took in some $2.056 million and spent $717,000, an indication he’s building his organization bigger and faster than the others in the field.
On the Democrat side, so far there’s only one candidate – former Secretary of Transportation and Development Shawn Wilson. So far Wilson seems to be doing what might be expected; he’s raising a modicum of cash from typical Democrat supporters.
Wilson has taken in $581,000 and spent $36,000, leaving him with $545,000. His campaign put out a statement on his haul so far…
“We launched this campaign with 30 days left in the reporting period, and the outpouring of support Rocki and I have received has been one of the most humbling experiences,” Wilson said.
“We are building a grassroots campaign in every corner of the state, and we will have the resources we need to share our vision for the state,” Wilson said.
“Politics today is too divisive. I am going to be a governor that brings people together to make meaningful progress, as I have done over my career, and I am so grateful to every person that stepped up to help us be so successful. Our work is just beginning, and I look forward to meeting more Louisianans as we travel the state.”
Raising nearly $600,000 in a month is an OK number, and it’s probably enough to put Wilson on track to make the runoff as the only Democrat in the race. But it isn’t game-changing.
For example, Stephen Waguespack got into the race later than Wilson, who launched his campaign March 6. And Waguespack’s campaign account is a lot fuller than Wilson’s is.
So far Waguespack’s campaign has loaded up with $922,000 in contributions, against just $26,000 in expenditures. He’s holding $889,000 in cash on hand as of April 7. It’s a better showing than Wilson, though Waguespack isn’t competing with Wilson; he’s trying to take Landry’s spot in the runoff, not the Democrat’s.
John Schroder has a whole lot more money in his campaign account than Waguespack. Schroder has piled up $2.435 million in his campaign war chest. Interestingly, though, that number hasn’t really moved this year. Schroder raised $426,000 since the first of the year, but he spent $387,000, making him the most active spender of campaign cash outside of Landry.
Sharon Hewitt’s story is a little like a miniature version of Schroder’s. Hewitt is currently sitting on $664,000; she’s raised $206,000 since the first of the year, but she’s spent $156,000. Her financial position is essentially the same.
Richard Nelson is the fifth Republican in the race, and Nelson seems to be the most active outside of Landry in leveraging social media – and Instagram perhaps in particular. We’ll see if that does anything for him. Since the first of the year Nelson has raised $130,000 and spent $43,000; that leaves him with $280,000 in the bank.
And the other candidate in the race, independent Hunter Lundy, hasn’t made a filing yet. Instead, Lundy’s campaign released the results of a Survey USA poll which boasts that he’s a strong “second choice” among Democrat voters in Louisiana; something one might expect seeing as though Lundy used to be a Democrat.
But the poll indicates that the theory of the race we’ve been working on, which is that we’re headed to a Landry-Wilson runoff, is still very much intact…
It isn’t quite time for the candidates to start making big moves to get attention from the public; that’s likely to happen after the current legislative session ends. As of now they’re still raising money – some faster than others.
But so far it’s Landry and Wilson doing the most of what they need to do, with Waguespack making the biggest moves to secure a war chest among the other hopefuls.