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Landry keeps big fundraising edge, not counting money PACs, trial lawyers spend

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Landry keeps big fundraising edge, not counting money PACs, trial lawyers spend

Sep 15, 2023 | 1:20 pm ET
By Greg LaRose
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Landry keeps big fundraising edge, not counting money PACs, trial lawyers spend
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Attorney General Jeff Landry, pictured with his wife, Sharon, qualifies to run for Louisiana governor Aug. 9. 2023, at the State Archives in Baton Rouge. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Attorney General Jeff Landry continues to hold a decisive edge in fundraising in the Louisiana governor’s race, according to campaign finance filings 30 days ahead of the Oct. 14 primary election.

Records from the Louisiana Ethics Administration show Landry pulled about $1.82 million in the reporting period between July 7 and Sept. 4. No other candidate raised close to half the amount Landry reported. Lake Charles trial lawyer Hunter Lundy of Lake Charles reported $784,045 in receipts, with the vast majority coming from yet another loan to his self-financed campaign.

As of Sept. 4, Landry’s campaign reported having $6.69 million on hand. That puts him well ahead of his closest fundraising competitors, fellow Republicans John Schroder ($1.68 million) and Stephen Waguespack ($1.27 million) and the independent Lundy ($1.19 million).

A chart showing campaign fundraising and spending for Louisiana governor candidates

Landry’s total doesn’t include the significant sums political action committees and the Louisiana Republican Party have spent on making him the next governor. The PACs monthly campaign reports show more than $3.16 million has been donated in recent weeks to their efforts, with a sizable chunk coming from trial lawyers who lined up behind Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards in his two victories.

Notably, the Baton Rouge law firm Talbot, Carmouche and Marcello that’s behind the coastal parish government lawsuits against oil and gas companies for wetlands damages donated $300,000 to the pro-Landry Protect Louisiana’s Children PAC. 

Landry endorsed the first major settlement between local government and a fossil fuel company in 2021, earning him derision from some of his fellow GOP members and the oil and gas industry.

Waguespack, former leader of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, also benefits from a PAC lined up behind his campaign. Reboot Louisiana, which is also supporting state Rep. John Stefanski for attorney general, raised $473,000 in the July-September reporting period and spent almost $543,000.

Landry’s spending over the period also dwarfed the competition. His $4.25 million far outpaced Lundy’s $1.68 million, with both candidates becoming a regular presence on television. Waguespack also reached seven figures with his spending, totaling $1.17 in the two-month stretch.

Shawn Wilson, the main Democratic contender, started his first television ad campaign this past week. Those expenditures that won’t show up until the next reporting period, for which reports are due 10 days before the primary. 

In his latest report, the Wilson campaign reported raising $588,427 and spending about half that amount. He had almost $880,000 on hand in early December, and the Democratic Governors’ Association PAC reported nearly $254,000 left to spend in its most recent monthly report. 

A chart showing campaign fundraising and spending for political action committees involved in the Louisiana governor's race

Ahead of Wilson’s TV commercial debut, the RGA Right Direction PAC, a Republican governors’ organization, has been running attack ads that target the former transportation secretary. The RGA PAC raised $1.6 million and spent $1.28 million over a month, according to its campaign finance filing.

State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, and state Rep. Richard Nelson, R-Mandeville, trail well behind the field in fundraising and with what’s left in their war chests. 

Hewitt, who made a big TV ad buy over the summer, had less than $100,000 remaining as of Sept. 4 and had raised only $22,000 in the two months prior. Nelson is down to about $224,000 with only $36,000 collected.