Landrieu doubles fundraising dollars

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu raised more than double the cash raised by her chief re-election opponent during the first quarter of 2013, according to numbers her campaign is releasing early Thursday.

Landrieu, D-La., is announcing she raised about $1.2 million during the first three months of the year, which compares favorably with the more than $500,000 brought in by her only 2014 opponent thus far, U.S. Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge.

Those dollars leave Landrieu with a $3.46 million war chest thus far compared with Cassidy’s $2.4 million, though the election is nearly 18 months away.

Cassidy formally announced his intentions last week.

While Landrieu is a self-styled “moderate” Democrat, her GOP opponents will continue to describe her as far too liberal for the state.

“As the 113th Congress continues, I look forward to working with my colleagues to move toward a balanced solution to our budget challenges — one that protects and expands the middle class and achieves our goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction during the next decade,” Landrieu said. “My eyes are focused on representing Louisianians and continuing my successful efforts to secure funds for coastal restoration, support our oil, gas and petrochemical industry and promote small business start-ups and expansion.”

Landrieu also promoted the support she has from top Republican donors, such as New Orleans developer Joe Canizaro and Lockport shipyard magnate Boysie Bollinger, who is a former state Republican Party chairman.

“Any challenger to Sen. Landrieu will have a hard time building support as more and more prominent business leaders back her,” Bollinger said in a prepared statement. “People know that at the end of the day, Mary always fights for our state. For me and many Louisianians, that’s more important than anything.”

Though he trails Landrieu in fundraising, momentum also favors Cassidy, a physician and former state senator who entered Congress in January 2009.

The deck largely has been cleared of other GOP opponents challenging Landrieu and Cassidy, especially after U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, last week opted against running.

U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., also anointed Cassidy as “the single major conservative challenging Mary Landrieu.”

Other potential challengers such as Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, have publicly bowed out. Former Congressman Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, is focusing on his new super PAC, although he has not officially said he will not run.

The only vocal thorn remaining in Cassidy’s side is state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education President Chas Roemer, of Baton Rouge, who has criticized what he called the backroom deals to ensure that Cassidy is Landrieu’s lone major challenger.