Some prominent Louisiana Republican political figures are lining up behind Metro Councilman Mike Walker to try to help him win the Nov. 6 election for East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president, a race that pits Walker against incumbent Kip Holden, a Democrat, and two independent candidates.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson; and Louisiana Republican Party Chairman Roger Villere are hosting a high-priced fundraising event for Walker in New Orleans later this month.
“It’s very exciting and really shows where the momentum in the race lies,” said Mike Smith, Walker’s campaign adviser. “It shows that others, outside of East Baton Rouge Parish, are paying attention to this race (which) will set the tone for the entire state since we are the seat of government.”
The fundraising event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at Le Foret restaurant in New Orleans. It costs $500 per couple to attend, or $1,000 to attend an additional “host committee reception” before the general reception, Smith said.
Villere said Walker is a solid Republican who will make a great mayor. He also said the high-ranking statewide Republicans have a vested interest in Baton Rouge.
“It’s the largest parish in the state now and is a higher priority than it has been in the past,” Villere said. “The government is growing, the parish is growing and it seems to be that the whole Baton Rouge corridor is growing at a faster rate than anywhere else in the state, so it’s very important for the future of Louisiana for there to be strong leadership in Baton Rouge.”
Vitter, Cassidy and Scalise did not return messages asking for comment.
Smith said Walker’s team expects to raise as much as $30,000 from the event.
He said the fundraiser came to pass because Walker had seen the state officials at several events in recent weeks.
“They said, ‘Please let us know if we can help’ and we took them up on their offer,” Smith said. “They’ve been incredibly supportive.”
He said the New Orleans venue was chosen because it was more accommodating for the hosts.
The event is closed to the press, Smith said.
The high-dollar campaign event is a departure from Walker’s campaign strategy over the past few months of relying heavily on a wider base of smaller donations.
As of the last campaign finance deadline in August, Walker’s fundraising was lagging behind that of Mayor-President Kip Holden.
Holden had raised about $350,000 since the beginning of the year, compared with Walker, who raised about $196,000.
While Holden had the financial advantage, Walker had four times as many individual donors, who gave an average of $170.
Rannah Gray, Holden’s campaign adviser, said she had no comment on Walker’s fundraising efforts.
She said Holden’s campaign would eventually “feature the mayor’s endorsements, and our campaign finance report will show the broad bipartisan support for Mayor Holden in East Baton Rouge Parish.”
Holden and Walker also will face no-party candidates Steve Myers and Gordon Mese in the Nov. 6 primary election.
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