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Candidates, Parties Spending Heavily on Louisiana Race

While the rest of the country has spent the last three weeks recovering from Election Day, candidates and party officials in Louisiana have continued to shake the money tree and raise funds for what will be the final two races of the 2008 cycle.

As a result of an active hurricane season that forced officials to push back the state’s primary election calendar, Louisiana will hold two general elections on Dec. 6, with the more competitive of those races taking place in the battleground 4th district of retiring Rep. Jim McCrery (R).

In that contest, Democrat Paul Carmouche reported raising more than $362,000 from Oct. 16 to Nov. 16, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed this week. The Carmouche campaign also reported $72,000 in cash on hand at the end of the period and $59,000 in debts incurred during the final month of the campaign. Since launching his bid, Carmouche has raised more than $1.21 million in his effort to move the Shreveport-based 4th district seat in the Democratic column.

National Democrats have been backing the Caddo Parish district attorney since before the primary election, and as of Monday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had dropped more than $548,000 in independent expenditures on the 4th district contest.

But Republicans are also spending heavily to ensure that physician John Fleming (R) keeps the 4th district seat in Republican hands.

Fleming raised $370,000 in the last month of the campaign, with $160,000 of that coming from loans that the Republican has made to his own campaign. On Nov. 16, Fleming had just $16,000 in cash on hand, according to FEC reports, but considering how frequently he cuts checks to his campaign, funding isn’t likely to be a problem for the Republican in the final two weeks of the contest. Fleming, the owner of a Subway restaurants franchise, has loaned his campaign almost $935,000 since joining the race.

The National Republican Congressional Committee had dropped more than $621,000 in independent expenditures on the contest as of Monday. That total includes a $233,000 media buy made Monday.

Fleming is scheduled to stump with McCrery, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Rep.-elect Bill Cassidy (R-La.) next week.

The other Congressional race taking place Dec. 6 in Louisiana is the New Orleans-based 2nd district. That contest pits Republican Anh Cao against Rep. William Jefferson (D), who is facing down multiple federal corruption and bribery charges.

Despite those ethical issues, Jefferson is seen as relatively safe in his highly Democratic district against a GOP challenger with very little name recognition, but Louisiana Republicans insist that an opportunity does exist for the party to steal the seat after Jefferson won a contentious primary race. Cao has raised about $114,000 total for his race with almost $108,000 of that coming from Oct. 16 to Nov. 16. Cao had about $67,000 in cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Jefferson has raised $793,000 this cycle for his re-election bid with nearly $70,000 of that total coming in the last month. He reported $86,000 in cash on hand on Nov. 16, and he was also carrying about $257,000 in debt.

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