Outside money to be a big a factor in gubernatorial runoff

(WVUE) - With the race for Louisiana governor now in run-off mode, outside money is expected to play a bigger role in the campaign.

On Monday, soggy signs bearing the names of candidates John Bel Edwards and David Vitter still littered neutral grounds and sidewalks in the New Orleans area. Like the candidates whose names they brandish, they were still standing after a hard-fought primary race.

With the start of a new week, it is a new race, one that will no doubt intensify because all is at stake for the two remaining candidates in terms of winning voters over to their side.

"We cannot afford to get this one wrong," John Bel Edwards said at his election night party.

"Voting for John Bel Edwards would be the same as voting as voting to make Barack Obama governor of Louisiana and put those policies in Baton Rouge," said Vitter after he knew he had made the runoff.

Edwards got 40 percent of the vote Saturday, earning a commitment from an arm of the National Democratic Party to help him.

"Republicans can't be pleased that they are stuck with David Vitter in a race they once thought would be a cakewalk. David Vitter is a deeply wounded candidate, and polls show that Louisiana voters simply don't trust him as their next governor. It's downright embarrassing for a sitting U.S. senator to get less than 25 percent percent of the vote," said Jared Leopold, Communications Director for the Democratic Governors' Association.

In response, Vitter campaign spokesman Luke Bolar said, "More than 60 percent of voters voted against John Bel Edwards, and Republicans won 55 out of 64 parishes."

Vitter received 23 percent of the vote, however, there were two other prominent Republicans in the race.

"If you want to know where the race is competitive, take a look at whether the national parties are infusing cash into the election. We've seen the Republican Governor's Association do it, now we're starting to see is the Democratic Governor's Association doing it. They smell blood in the water, they think they've got a pickup here," said Mike Sherman, FOX 8 political analyst.

He believes there is a lot of room for both candidates to improve, in terms of garnering more support.

"John Bel Edwards needs to put together an interesting coalition that no Democrat has done recently, he's got to ignite the base of the party and then got to win back those conservative democrats who still self identify as democrats but vote Republican," he said.

Sherman believes Vitter, too, needs to focus on the base of his party.

"Vitter's name is around the state, he's an incumbent U.S. senator, he had a really poor performance at just 23 percent," he said.

Some polling has shown that Vitter has a problem with women, but Sherman believes both candidates would do well to reach out to female voters.

"If I'm John Bel Edwards or David Vitter, I'd target the women voters in Louisiana. Those are the ones who are going to make a difference," said Sherman.

"I want you to brace yourself, because this is going to be a real tough runoff to watch unfold on TV, and I'm sorry about that, I'm not going to be the one doing it," Edwards said.

Neither Vitter nor Edwards was made available for comment for this story.

Copyright 2015 WVUE. All rights reserved.