Congressional candidates continue raising funds for campaign

In a boost to his challenge to the re-election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy raised more money than she did last month and also has more money available to spend before the Nov. 4 open primary, according to campaign finance reports.

It’s the first time in his Senate race that Cassidy has bested Landrieu on those measurements for a campaign-finance reporting period.

Cassidy, a Baton Rouge physician, took in $629,000 from July 1 to Aug. 2 and reported $5.6 million in cash on hand at the end of the period. For Landrieu, the parallel amounts were $576,000 and $5.5 million.

The reports are “pre-primary” filings required by the Federal Elections Commission. Although the actual primary is Nov. 4, because of the idiosyncrasies of Louisiana elections procedures, the FEC regards the Aug. 22 deadline for an official declaration of candidacy as the date of the primary for reporting purposes.

All candidates for a given office run in the same field on Nov. 4. If no candidate wins the election by capturing a majority of the vote that day, the top two finishers advance to a runoff Dec. 6.

Rob Maness, the other reasonably well-financed Republican in the Senate race, has yet to file a report.

Landrieu, a three-term incumbent in a deep red state, is squarely in the crosshairs of the Republican drive to pick up six Senate seats and capture a majority to add to their control of the House.

In the 5th Congressional District in northeast Louisiana, Republican U.S. Rep. Vance McCallister reported a negative cash flow of $2,900 for the period — because of two contributions of $2,000 each returned to political action committees — and just $233 in cash on hand.

McAllister won a 2013 special election to fill the unexpired term of Republican Rodney Alexander, who left Congress for a state job, but McAllister got into trouble this spring when a closed-circuit TV camera at his district office in Monroe caught him in a passionate embrace with a female staff member. Both are married, but not to each other.

Gov. Bobby Jindal and other prominent Republicans pressured McAllister to resign. After initially saying he would serve out his term but not seek re-election, McAllister changed his mind and, with his wife and children at his side, announced in early July that he will run again.

McAllister, a successful businessman with considerable personal wealth, was helped last year by the endorsement of the Robertson clan, of Monroe and “Duck Dynasty” TV fame, but this year the Robertsons are putting their money and support behind Zach Dasher, a Republican pharmaceutical sales representative who married into the family. Dasher reported raising $90,000 in the period, with $216,000 on hand.

Other Republican challengers to McCallister reporting significant fundraising activity include Ralph Abraham, with $89,000 raised and $123,000 on hand, and Harris Brown, with $26,000 raised and $212,000 on hand.

The principal Democrat to have announced his candidacy in the 5th District, Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, has not filed any fundraising reports to date.

In the 6th Congressional District, now represented by Cassidy, Republican Garret Graves continues to outdistance his competitors in overall fundraising. Graves, a former Jindal aide, reported raising $59,000 in the period, with $637,000 on hand.

Other Republican contenders include state Sen. Dan Claitor, of Baton Rouge, who raised $16,000 and reported $79,000 on hand; Paul Dietzel, with $10,000 raised and $70,000 on hand; Charles “Trey” Thomas III, of Baton Rouge, with $71,000 raised and $16,000 on hand; and state Rep. Lenar Whitney, of Houma, with $24,000 raised and $67,000 on hand.

The leading Democratic candidate, four-term former Gov. Edwin Edwards, reported taking in $44,000 in the period and $145,000 on hand.

Follow Gregory Roberts on Twitter @GregRobertsDC. For more coverage of government and politics, follow The Advocate Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/