Talking TV: La. gubernatorial hopefuls cast advertising visions

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BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — The television ad buys are blooming in Louisiana’s gubernatorial race, as two candidates tailor their message to sports audiences.

Football is one focus for Democratic incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards and Republican challenger Eddie Rispone. Edwards has dropped $123,000 for advertisements during football games that feature the New Orleans Saints, LSU Tigers, UL-Lafayette Rajun Cajuns and Tulane Green Wave. Rispone is spending $250,000 to advertise on NFL Network and ESPN cable channels.

The specialty ad buys come as Edwards and Rispone also grow their overall advertising games. Both have spent millions on airing two campaign commercials each so far. On Monday, Rispone’s team announced it has secured $4 million in TV ad time, on top of $1 million already spent.

“We’ve got a great opportunity to tell Louisiana voters that Eddie Rispone is the only pro-Trump conservative outsider in the race,” Rispone campaign spokesman Anthony Ramirez told BRProud.com’s Harrison Golden Tuesday. “Louisiana needs someone who is like Trump, a businessman not afraid to turn Louisiana around.”

But not every hopeful has blitzed the airwaves. Rep. Ralph Abraham sits without a TV advertisement. The Republican challenger’s team denies claims that they’ve missed their chance to lure viewers before the Oct. 12 open primary.

“We will have enough money to run a widespread advertising campaign,” Abraham campaign spokesman Lionel Rainey said.

Rainey would not give a timeline for when pro-Abraham commercials would appear on TV, only saying an ad buy is “in the near future.”

The most recent finance reports signal Abraham with $1.3 million cash on hand, compared to Rispone’s $9.8 million and Edwards’ $9.6 million. The congressman’s team maintains that he has raised more money than Rispone, whose bid is heavily self-funded.

“Having a lot of money in advertising alone is not what wins elections,” Rainey said. “People want to shake hands with their candidate.”

The Edwards campaign issued similar remarks in a statement Tuesday.

“The only reason Rispone is on TV is because he’s wealthy and thinks he can buy the governor’s office after spending years buying political access,” campaign spokesman Eric Holl said.

Rispone’s aides defend their spending blitz as a must to stay viable in a race that could garner national interest — especially since Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South.

“Louisiana is a very expensive state when it comes to TV,” Ramirez said. “We know John Bel Edwards and special interests will spend millions, and we need to be able to compete.”

Louisiana voters will choose a candidate Oct. 12. If no gubernatorial hopefuls win more than half of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off Nov. 16.

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