NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The race for governor becomes official this week as qualifying for the political contest begins on Tuesday (Aug. 6).
It is a race that is attracting attention from the national political parties as incumbent Governor John Bel Edwards is the last Democrat to hold a governorship in the Deep South.
Edwards believes Louisiana has made significant progress under his leadership.
"I feel good about the campaign because I feel good about the state. Our state is measurably better off in so many critical areas than we were in 2015,” said Edwards.
Edwards said he inherited a fiscal crisis from former Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican.
"We’ve made a tremendous difference. That $2 billion deficit is gone,” said Edwards.
Two Republicans, Congressman Ralph Abraham of Alto, and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone are challenging Edwards.
Abraham says his campaign is going well.
"We’re in a good spot right now, you know, poll numbers are good, monies raised are coming in well, and we’re just going to continue to build on that momentum,” said Abraham.
He says Louisiana has not done well under Edwards’ leadership.
“The facts point to a completely different scenario than what Gov. Edwards is telling us,” said Abraham. “He’s telling [us] that we’re in a good spot, that everything is rosy and that there are only blue skies ahead of us, and I can tell you that’s as far from the truth as you can get.”
Rispone did not consent to an interview for this story but he is running campaign ads about his candidacy.
"As president, I'll work with President Trump to protect our constitutional rights, to ban sanctuary cities and to end taxpayer benefits for illegal immigrants in Louisiana,” says a Rispone ad.
Gary Landrieu is running for governor as an independent.
"When I'm your governor I'm going to remove all illegals from our welfare system,” says a Landrieu campaign spot.
Campaign finance reports filed in July show Rispone had $9.8 million on hand.
While Rispone has received some contributions, his camp said Rispone contributed $10 million of his own money to the campaign.
Robert Collins, PhD., a Dillard University political analyst, is closely monitoring the race.
"In the case of Eddie Rispone, of course, he’s a very wealthy man and he’s spending his own money, so I think those numbers are a little deceptive,” Collins said.
In terms of fund-raising, Edwards was second with $9.6 million.
Collins said the governor will not have trouble raising funds.
"It’s very difficult to raise money against an incumbent governor because all of the monied interests in the state, all of the corporate money, the large construction contractors that do business with the state, they’re not going to want to go against an incumbent governor,” said Collins.
Abraham had $1.3 million, according to the campaign finance report.
Collins said that amount does not surprise him.
"Congressman Abraham, his war chest is about what you would expect an incumbent congressman to have, but I don’t see any way possible for him to out-raise the governor,” Collins stated.
And Collins does not expect any major surprises as candidates officially sign up for the governor’s race.
"There won't be any surprises this late. If anyone was planning on making a serious run for the governor's office they would have already announced by now,” he said.
Qualifying runs through August 8.