We're less than 180 days from the October 22nd primary. And let's be honest: the only thing we know is that Bobby Jindal is cruising to reelection.
Otherwise, the statewide scene is set of under-funded incumbents and over-confident challengers. All campaign finance numbers are through the reporting date of April 15th, 2011.
First, let's get Bobby's gaudy numbers out of the way:
Bobby Jindal raised $1,723,110.52 since the beginning of the year. However, Jindal burned an equally robust $1,329,024.86. No doubt, staffing a national fundraising operation is staff-heavy, but the majority of charges is for political media. Jindal spent over $150k on mailings (likely fundraising asks) in only 4 months. And he spent more than $800k on statewide media buys for those god-awful "no tax pledge" TV spots. His campaign finance report is over 1500 pages long.
Then there's our old friend John Georges. While John might want to be mentioned in the Governor's race conversation, the bottom line is that he is not running for Governor. He cannot beat Jindal, and even a stubborn mogul like Georges knows it. He made a big splash by loaning his campaign account $10m. All the chatter among Democrats pointed to Georges rattling his sabers to take Jindal on. But more than likely, Georges will run for a lesser office. Lieutenant Governor, and even Insurance Commissioner, have been mentioned. If Georges spent half of his self-assigned allowance in either race, he would be a top-tier competitor and even a favorite to win. That kind of money simply isn't going to be available to the Jay Dardennes and the Jim Donelon's of the world.
Speaking of Jim Donelon, the affable insurance commissioner raised over $112k this past quarter, bringing his total to over $505k in the bank. This would scare all but the best financed competition off. Unfortunately, if Georges is thinking about this race, a measly $505k won't be sufficient. Donelon has got to be hoping he can talk Georges out of wanting the job. Otherwise, despite his strong fundraising, he will be swamped.
Moving to the Lieutenant Governor's contest, we can now faithfully report that Billy Nungesser is openly stating he will be a candidate for the number 2 job in the fall. His report says it all:
So that solves that riddle, for now (at least until qualifying). Nungesser raised an impressive $374k. More impressive is the personal campaign loan of $500k, making his total Cash on Hand $873k. He spent only $521 raising that $374k, which blows away Jindal's burn rate of $0.76 per $1 raised.
Old Jay Dardenne can't catch a break. First, he faces the best-financed first-time Democratic candidate in history in Caroline Fayard, and then the knives come out for Dardenne the following fall. No fewer than three major candidates have suggested they might take Dardenne on, including Billy Nungesser, Scott Angelle and John Georges. The current Lieutenant Governor raised only $146k this period, and ended with $191k CoH. Not bad for a challenger, but not good for an incumbent. Especially one that will face very well financed competition in the fall.
In terms of disasters, look no further than Tom Schedler. The Secretary of State, and ally of Jay Dardenne, raised absolutely nothing. In any other case, this would look like someone who simply isn't running, but we've all been assured Schedler is indeed going to stand for reelection in the fall. The only funds in the account were those he lent himself in the form of a $150k loan. While that might be a good start, the total lack of fundraising is difficult to understand, especially given the near-open field he had with which to work.
In terms of surprises, no blog could be more surprised than this one to see turncoat Walker Hines raise over $156k on low ($12k) expenditures in his campaign for Secretary of State from an impressive list of heavy-hitters. The absolutely deserted field is clearly playing into Hines' favor here, and his father's arm-twisting abilities have given Hines the necessary jolt to make his campaign seem legitimate. While no one expects Hines to win this race, with little other announced or rumored competition, Hines looks ready to crush a woefully unprepared Schedler in the money race. This race is absolutely wide open, and even a mediocre entry would upset Hines' dominance. For now, however, with fundraising and organizational advantages, Hines seems to be on track to be a player.
And finally, our favorite flip-flopping Attorney General, Buddy Caldwell. Since he decided to swap parties, Caldwell's fundraising has dried up. He only raised $91k this period, and spent approximately $82k doing so. While still sitting on more than $450k, Caldwell looks like he is stuck in neutral. This is a unique opportunity for a Democratic candidate, because with trial lawyers being the backbone of the Democratic fundraising base, an Attorney General candidate with strong support from that group would have no trouble raising the funds necessary to compete. Someone, like, hmm, Senate President Joel Chaisson? Or Caroline Fayard? Or Senator Karen Carter Peterson? Just a thought or two...
Speaking of Ms. Fayard, like Mr. Angelle and Senator Chaisson, none have filed tell-tale 180-pre-primary reports. This indicates no definitiveness on the subject of their candidacies. It only suggests they have yet to decide to seriously fundraise. However, this circumstance cannot continue past June. When the 90-day pre-primary reports are required in July, any sensible statewide candidate will have begun to fill the campaign kitty.
Until then, the parlor games will continue.
Bayoubuzz Newsletter - Sign Up Below