Louisiana Politics: Candidates turn to their own bank accounts in 2015
It’s not unheard of to have a self-financed candidate in a major Louisiana campaign. But to see seven statewide candidates, including one incumbent and a regional officeholder, dipping into their own pockets during the same reporting period is somewhat unusual.
Coming off of an aggressive U.S. Senate race last year and having to compete with hundreds of other races this cycle has clearly taken its toll. Mix in super PACs, which are political action committees that can raise unlimited amounts of money, and special interests that are playing in the elections and you start to understand why cash has been so hard to come by.
In all, statewide candidates for office in Louisiana loaned themselves more than $1.3 million during the most recently completed fundraising quarter.
In the race for governor, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle loaned his campaign $122,000 last month and took out a $253,000 loan with FM Bank in Breaux Bridge. The Republican’s campaign would not have reached $1 million in cash on hand at the end of the most recent quarter without the loans.
For lieutenant governor, former Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser loaned his campaign $500,000 in July. How long it will stay in the account is a good question. Nungesser loaned his campaign $900,000 on Dec. 31, just in time to bolster his first annual report. He repaid it in full on Jan. 6.
Three of the candidates for attorney general, including the incumbent, dug into their own pockets. GOP Attorney General Buddy Caldwell put up $200,000. Former Congressman Jeff Landry of New Iberia topped that with a $250,000 July loan and West Baton Rouge Parish prosecutor Marty Maley inserted $3,000 into his campaign.
In the secretary of state’s race, challenger and law professor Chris Tyson of Baton Rouge loaned himself $10,000. Matt Parker of Monroe, who is running for insurance commissioner, also took out a $1,200 loan for his campaign.
Qualifying dates create problems
There are only 44 days between the close of qualifying on Sept. 10 and the primary election on Oct. 24. That’s a little over six weeks to run a professional campaign knowing the full field of candidates.
For folks who make a living off of politics, that timeframe is driving them crazy. Campaign managers are sitting on direct mail pieces, waiting to find out who they will attack. Political action committees are sitting on checks, holding out to see if they have the right horse — and the right amount. Special interests have paused their endorsement processes.
All because Louisiana has a late election cycle and an equally late qualifying period.
However, there is good news. Act 410 by Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, goes into effect on Jan. 1 and will create more wiggle room for candidates and their campaigns.
Governor hopefuls talk about lt. gov.
LaPolitics asked all four of the major gubernatorial candidates what role the next lieutenant governor would play in their administration if they were elected.
They were also asked if they prefer one of the candidates over the others. But none voiced a preference or were willing to announce an endorsement.
Only Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said outright he would not give the next lieutenant governor any additional responsibilities.
“No, because if he does as I have done, which is to serve as secretary of the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, instead of filling that position, he will be very busy,” Dardenne said. “Doing that job myself instead of hiring a CRT secretary saved the taxpayers $130,000 a year.”
Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle served as lieutenant governor as well, on an interim basis.
“Any additional responsibilities that I would provide to the lieutenant governor would stem a partnership between us,” said Angelle.
U.S. Sen. David Vitter said he would meet with the new lieutenant governor soon after being elected and state Rep. John Bel Edwards said he would have an open line of communications too.
Their complete and unedited answers to our questions can be viewed here:
District Judge David W. Arceneaux ruled on Friday that a candidate running in state House District 52 will not be allowed to appear on the Oct. 24 ballot as both a Republican and a Democrat.
As reported here last week, former state Rep. Damon Baldone of Houma was pursuing the dual registration because he felt his constitutional rights were violated when the Terrebonne Parish registrar of voters forced him to register as “other.” He had originally attempted to register with both mainline parties simultaneously.
Baldone, who was a Democrat before switching his registration, said he still hopes to become Louisiana’s first hybrid party candidate.
“I’ll be appealing the ruling,” he said.
Citing case law, Arceneaux ruled that “the state had a strong and legitimate interest in minimizing ballot-engendered voter confusion or deception generally.”
Baldone said his goal is not to confuse, but to head off the splintering of the Louisiana Legislature along party lines. He said wanted the opportunity to be able to work with both parties and the ability to attend caucus meetings for Democrats and Republicans, although it isn’t clear if either party would permit such a crossover.
Baldone is running to replace House Natural Resources Chairman Gordy Dove, R-Houma, who is term limited. Also expected to qualify in the race are two Republicans, Jerome Zeringue, formerly Gov. Bobby Jindal’s top coastal aid, and J.J. Buquet, who owns Buquet Distributing in Houma.
They said it
“Nachos and chocolate chip cookies.”
—Gov. Bobby Jindal, on what his first White House meal would be, in Huffington Post
“I loved high school, basketball and cheerleaders.”
—Treasurer John Kennedy, reminiscing about childhood, in his new re-election TV commercial
For more Louisiana political news, visit www.LaPolitics.com or follow Jeremy Alford on Twitter @LaPoliticsNow.