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Following the Money in the Governor's Race

S. Lincoln

As we’ve been examining the issues and the candidates’ stances in the governor’s race, we’ve made more than a few comparisons to the Huey Long era of Louisiana’s history. Many of the issues in the current governor’s race may be the same as in Huey Long’s day, but there’s one huge difference this year: the money involved.

“He’s got zillions of dollars. He’ll continue to have zillions of dollars. He leans on people from his position as a senator. He’s been able to raise a lot of money in his Super PAC, and a lot of money individually.”

Jay Dardenne is talking about David Vitter. With one month to go to the election, Dardenne’s campaign finance report showed $1.6-million in the bank. Vitter had $7-miilion on hand; $4-million in his campaign fund and $3-million in his Super PAC.

“This is an election, and not an auction,” Scott Angelle says of Vitter’s fundraising dominance in the race.

But Angelle also has a Super PAC, and – combined with his campaign funds -- has over $2-million available to spend.

Randy Newman sang of Huey Long, in his song, “The Kingfish”, with lyrics that say:

“Who took on the Standard Oil men and whipped their ass,

Just like he promised he’d do?

Ain’t no Standard Oil men gonna run this state.

Gonna be run by little folks like me and you.”

Neither Vitter nor Angelle will be battling Big Oil if they win, however, since much of their financial support has come from that industry.

Angelle has said, “We must continue to make certain that the Gulf of Mexico is a viable and competitive place to explore and produce hydrocarbons.”

And Vitter has stated, “I would lead a coalition of other states’ Governors to expand and accelerate domestic energy production.”

Vitter is also promising to benefit his oil and gas industry contributors by pushing to curb the so-called “legacy lawsuits” which seek the clean-up of contamination those industries have left behind.

“We need to dramatically improve our legal environment –with tort reform and litigation reform, because we have a very negative anti-business legal environment,” Vitter has stated publicly on several occasions.

But John Bel Edwards takes a different stance

“State policy should not be to immunize any private interest,” Edwards states.

Edwards had $1.4-million in his campaign fund as of one month before the primary election, but he does not have a Super PAC. Dardenne does, but it’s got less than $9000 available.

There are two Super PACs not affiliated with any of the candidates, but with the stated purpose of simply opposing Vitter. Between them, they have approximately $400,000 available to spend.