East Baton Rouge Parish mayor-president candidate Steve Myers, a self-proclaimed underdog, announced Thursday that he’s bolstering his campaign finances with $135,000 of his own money to level the playing field.
Myers, an attorney and property manager, faces tough competition with incumbent Mayor-President Kip Holden, a Democrat, Councilman Mike Walker, a Republican, and businessman Gordon Mese, a no-party candidate. All three announced their campaigns early this year while Myers, a no-party candidate, waited until the last day of qualifying in August.
Myers said he transferred $35,000 of his own money into his campaign finance fund this week and is starting the process of mortgaging an $800,000 rental property on Cherrydale Avenue to pump another $100,000 into his campaign.
“That money, plus our fundraising activity, should put us close to even in fundraising with at least Mike Walker,” said Myers, referring to Walker’s August campaign finance report, which revealed he had raised $196,000 since January.
He said the decision to boost his campaign funds was a response to the Baton Rouge Apartment Association’s recent “snub” of him and Mese, who is not accepting donations.
The Apartment Association invited Walker and Holden to a campaign forum based on a requirement that the participating candidates had to have raised a minimum of $20,000.
“No one even called me to find out how much I had in my account or intended to spend,” Myers said. “They essentially cut two candidates out who had as much to contribute to a discussion of issues in front of the Apartment Association as anyone.”
Buddy Amoroso, the president of the Baton Rouge Apartment Association, said the decision to draw the line at $20,000 was made by the group’s executive committee at a February meeting.
Amoroso said the association’s lunchtime forum lasted only an hour, and it wouldn’t have been able to accommodate four candidates.
Myers said his personal donation will ensure he isn’t excluded from any more mayoral debates and will show potential donors he’s serious about the race.
“Sometimes they won’t want to contribute if they think he doesn’t have the money or the wherewithal to win,” Myers said.
Myers is also unveiling his “Team of 250,” which encourages people to donate $250 to buy one of his 250 raffle tickets.
Donors who purchase raffle tickets are asked to guess how many votes Myers will get Nov. 6; the closest guess will win $10,000.
He said only 250 raffle tickets will be sold, but he’s accepting donations in addition to the raffle.
Candidates running for office can conduct fundraisers by selling raffle tickets, according to state law.
Myers said he’s spending his campaign funds to boost social media advertising and to buy signs, T-shirts, bumper stickers and other campaign paraphernalia.
Myers also said he wants to purchase radio ad space so he can play his campaign fight song, which he co-wrote with former attorney E. Eric Guirard.
Asked if he thought having more money would make voters take him more seriously, he said, “I don’t know. I think for some people it will.”