Governor may have to fight for national cash

With aggressive gubernatorial campaigns in Kentucky and Mississippi on tap for 2019, competition for national Democratic dollars could become fierce right when Gov. John Bel Edwards needs the re-election loot most.

Back home in Louisiana, members of the governor’s campaign team have been wearing political poker faces. Key staffers contend the election schedules in other states won’t influence the more than $500,000 raised last year by the governor’s leadership PAC, or the roughly $5 million sitting in his campaign’s bank account.

“He didn’t rely on that outside influence in 2015,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Carbo, who also worked on the Edwards campaign last cycle.

The candidate never relied on such resources because they were unavailable to him for most of his campaign.

For example, his first meeting with the Democratic Governors Association may have been as early as January 2013 and it was followed by several other unsuccessful appeals until the DGA finally inserted itself and its resources into the Louisiana race — in late October 2015, three days after the primary’s conclusion and roughly four weeks before the runoff.

Edwards’ long shot victory placed him in the national spotlight alone, a politically preferred designation. Now, as his campaign team barrels toward 2019, the governor will likely be forced to share the spotlight with two candidates looking to repeat his success in their own states.

For the first time since 2003, Democrats are fielding competitive candidates in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi, hoping to break the GOP’s dominance of southern governorships. Both Kentucky and Mississippi will head to the polls a week before Louisiana voters cast their ballots in 2019 runoffs.

Stephen Handwerk, the executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, said his office is working with the Democratic National Committee to secure funding for the 2019 cycle.

“We’re going to be marshaling all our resources,” Handwerk said.

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