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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, the only Democrat to hold a governor’s seat in the Deep South, reported Thursday that he’s sitting on a $5 million campaign account to run for re-election next year.

Edwards’ latest campaign finance report , a 974-page document filed with the state ethics administration office, shows the governor raised more than $2 million in 2017.

“I am so optimistic about our state’s future and where we stand at the halfway point of this administration, and I am humbled that the people of Louisiana have given my family this incredible opportunity,” Edwards said in a statement.

The governor’s fundraising slowed slightly last year, from more than $3 million during his first year in office. His dollar-collection pace also lags that of his predecessor, Republican Bobby Jindal, who had more than $7 million in the bank at the same period in his first term.

But with $5 million cash on hand at the midpoint of his term and a high approval rating with voters, Edwards is expected to be a formidable contender for re-election in the 2019 race.

The competition is expected to be a barn-burner, drawing millions in spending from outside groups, both from Democrats who want Edwards to hang onto the seat and Republicans who think Edwards’ success is a temporary blip in a red state where every other statewide elected official is in the GOP.

Already, some high-profile Republicans are considered possible challengers to Edwards.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy has said he’s weighing a possible campaign. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, who represents a northeast-based district, also is publicly sizing up the race. Attorney General Jeff Landry is mentioned as a potential opponent, saying he’s received encouragement to run. Also on the list are state Sen. Sharon Hewitt and Stephen Waguespack, head of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

Edwards’ campaign said 85 percent of last year’s contributions came from Louisiana residents.


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