BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Tuesday’s release of advertisements attacking two Republican candidates highlights the growing clout of political action committees in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race.
The pair of 30-second spots comes from GumboPAC, which that backs Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards but does not coordinate with the incumbent. The commercials blast Republican challenger Eddie Rispone as “phony” and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham as a candidate “looking out for himself, not for you.”
The anti-Republican ads counter commercials released by the Republican Governors Association’s “Right Direction” Super PAC. The group has collected millions of dollars in its quest to oust Edwards, the Deep South’s lone Democratic governor.
In 2010, a Supreme Court decision provided a bedrock for Super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors — including anonymous ones. The organizations have gained reputations for crafting negative ads, sometimes as proxies for candidates wishing to keep their own campaign messages clean.
“They can pretty much get away with what they want, under the guise of free speech,” said veteran Louisiana political pollster Bernie Pinsonat. “You’ll see a lot more money coming in, more PACs coming in.”
Shortly after the pro-Edwards PAC released its commercials Tuesday, Rispone issued an opposing statement:
“John Bel Edwards and his liberal cronies are trying to distract you from the fact that under his leadership, we are ranked dead last in almost every category. From jobs to healthcare, liberal John Bel has failed Louisiana.”
Louisiana voters will choose a governor in an open primary Oct. 12. If no candidate wins more than half of the vote, the top two vote-getters will hold a runoff Nov. 16.