Treasurer’s Race Suffering From Donor Fatigue

Talk to some of the hands working on the various campaigns for state treasurer and they’ll agree about one thing — that very few people in Louisiana know there’s an election underway and even fewer actually care.

Then go and sit a spell with the reporters covering the race. They might tell you how unexciting and bland the entire affair has been. (So far, at least.)

None of the candidates are political superstars. There aren’t any red-hot issues driving the election discourse. Complicating matters further, the race for treasurer is the only statewide throw-down on the Oct. 14 ballot, unless you want to count three proposed constitutional amendments.

Lonely, overlooked and a bit of a bore, the treasurer's race has become the redheaded stepchild of Louisiana politics this year.

So much so that even donors aren’t stroking checks like they usually do. Fatigue is one of the culprits. Associations, wealthy civic activists and corporate leaders have already suffered through a non-stop, three-year election cycle, from 2014 through 2016.

That extended cycle hosted the most expensive U.S. Senate race ever waged on Louisiana soil and the most costly election for governor in Louisiana history. Wrestling dollars from contributors in the shadow of all that has been a challenge for even the best fundraisers.

To put a finer point on it, high-profile GOP donors are noticeably holding back a bit. They’re confident that the next state treasurer is going to be a Republican — either former commissioner of administration Angele Davis of Baton Rouge, state Sen. Neil Riser of Columbia or former state Rep. John Schroder of Covington.

Some conservative donors have had a hard time drawing distinctions between the three leading candidates, which is to say they’ll be pleased no matter which contender wins. They don’t see a reason to spend money needlessly.

Donors also like to pick winners, but so do politicians, and a nod from the latter will most certainly bring in dollars from the former. Had some political heavyweights like U.S. Sen. John Kennedy or Gov. John Bel Edwards picked a horse in the race, contributions would have likely spiked.

It’s a trend, however, that cuts both ways. No-one wants donors to have outsized influence in an election. But on the other hand, without the cash to operate effective campaigns candidates face obstacles in getting their ideas in front of voters.

Direct mail costs money. Radio and television spots cost money. Staffs and data and signs all cost money. Especially in a statewide election.

Maybe more donor activity would have generated actual interest in this race. That could have, in turn, convinced television stations to host a live exchange. As of this week there are no televised debates or forums scheduled, but you can still hear from the candidates in their TV and radio advertisements.

Schroder has more dough than his opposition to do that kind of outreach — about $614,000 as of a week and a half ago. Schroder was also his own largest donor, injecting $186,000 of personal cash into his campaign account.

Through mid-September, his campaign had made only $256,000 in expenditures. The rest of Schroder’s money is probably being spent as you read this column, as part of a last-minute TV splash aimed at capturing the imagination of voters. Davis had $354,000 available for spending in her campaign kitty, as of the latest campaign finance reports, to Riser’s $145,000 in cash on hand.

Meanwhile, New Orleans attorney Derrick Edwards, the lone Democrat in the field, raised just $6,500 during the last reporting period and had $666 in his coffers. If Edwards makes the runoff, his campaign will become the most cost-affordable statewide bid launched in recent history. As a novice candidate he’s on his own, and it didn’t help that he failed to gain the support of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

This lack of a consolidated front on the left has created a strange-bedfellows landscape where conservatives like Riser and Schroder are spending money with Democratic-leaning organizations that specialize in get-out-the-vote efforts. Without influential donors and important personalities from the Democratic ranks taking a stand, the door for such alliances has been kicked open.

The best we can hope for right now is that donor fatigue doesn’t translate into voter fatigue. But given the dismal turnout forecasts that are floating around — 15 percent to 20 percent statewide — that seems to be exactly what we’re looking at as September comes to a close.

SPONSORED: Legatus In Louisiana

The intersection of faith and the workplace can be a challenge to navigate. And yet, there is an undeniable way that faith and values inform

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/17: Steve Duke and Kevin Gallagher — Wednesday 10/18: Paul Hardy, Connie Caldwell, Kodi Wilson and Robert Morris —

The Beltway Beat

— U.S. Sen. John Kennedy to Gov. Edwards: “Top quality health care for our people is extraordinarily important. (No reasonable person has

Angele Davis For The State Senate?

When you run better than expected in a statewide race and pull 41 percent in your own Senate District 16 — against five opponents, one of

LaHistory: When The Majority Leader Vanished

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the strange disappearance of U.S. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, a proud son of Louisiana. Boggs

Oct. 14: What Happened?

An astounding 86.5 percent of Louisiana’s registered population didn’t vote during this past weekend’s statewide elections. The math is a

POD: One From The Lobbying Corps…

Episode 22 of Season 2 has two guests from Spradely & Spradley, a government relations firm in Baton Rouge. They are Tom and Matt

LOWDOWN VIDEO: Election Zombies & Political Daredevils

We've got election zombies and political daredevils in this latest episode of The LaPolitics Lowdown. See how Louisiana lost a half

MEDIA SNAPSHOTS: About Last Night…

SPONSORED: Tax Reform (& A Tax Cocktail)

Tax reform is one of the nation’s most polarizing issue. The topic is so vast and complicated that few even attempt to understand the

You Should Be Listening To The Supremes

Can you name one of the justices currently serving on the United States Supreme Court? If you cannot, you’re among 57 percent of likely

The Beltway Beat

— Lindsay Lohan’s parents want a lawsuit filed against U.S. Sen. John Kennedy for the “mini-bar” comment. Missed that one? Watch

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/10: Late Supreme Court Justice George Eustis (1796) — Wednesday 10/11: Rick Boudreaux — Thursday 10/12: The one and

Political Chatter

— RELEASE: “During the October meeting on Thursday, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission opted not to vote on a proposal to give

Early Voting Analysis: “Not Much To Say”

The following words and thoughts belong to Ed Chervenak, the director of the UNO Survey Research Center… An analysis of the early voting

Jeff Landry’s New Chief Of Staff

Lynnel Ruckert, the former chief of staff to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, has been hired by Attorney General Jeff Landry to fill the

POD: The Jambalaya Episode

John Diez, the PAC director for the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, stops by to discuss what you need to make the perfect

LaHistory: An Unfriendly Month For Governors

Since 1828 there have been seven Louisiana governors who have passed away during the month of October, either while in office or later in

LOWDOWN: The Time Thibodaux Was Governor

Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser reveals a private conversation he had with Gov. John Bel Edwards about his future election plans... We meet

SPONSORED: Experience Is The Best Teacher

Experience is the best teacher. Louisiana-native Emily Bacque has learned the truth behind this adage after much experience in the

ICYMI: The “Next Frontier” For Public Records

The general counsel for the state’s premier newspaper and magazine association believes that the “next frontier for public records law in

Happy Birthday, Trackers!

— Tuesday 10/03: Former Congressman Charlie Melancon, David Crigler, and John Hill — Wednesday 10/04: Former Gov. Buddy Roemer, former

The Beltway Beat

— Majority Whip Steve Scalise returns to Congress and speaks on the floor. WATCH — The Scalise 60 Minutes interview (his first after he

Political Chatter

— His former colleagues in the Legislature probably won’t dig it much, but John Schroder’s new (and likely final) campaign commercial will

POD: Dardenne Goes To The Hoop

Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne is this week’s guest on The LaPolitics Report podcast. He reveals how close he came to walking