BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican candidate for governor Ralph Abraham, whose campaign account has lagged competitors by millions of dollars, announced Thursday that he's assembled a group of GOP fundraising heavyweights to help him draw more campaign cash.

Abraham, a third-term congressman from northeast Louisiana, announced a 10-person gubernatorial campaign finance committee packed with several businessmen and political financiers who are well-known big-ticket GOP donors. Its chairmen, shipbuilder Donald "Boysie" Bollinger and New Orleans real estate developer Joe Canizaro, also are co-chairs of President Donald Trump's campaign finance operation in Louisiana.

Abraham is one of two announced Republican candidates running against Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards on the Oct. 12 ballot, along with Eddie Rispone , a wealthy Baton Rouge businessman who has indicated a willingness to largely self-finance his campaign.

"We believe that Ralph Abraham is the best choice to serve as the next governor of the state of Louisiana and will work to ensure his campaign has the financial resources necessary to beat John Bel Edwards," Bollinger said in a statement.

The finance committee announcement seeks to show many of Louisiana's high-powered Republican donors are coalescing around Abraham, suggesting he's the front-runner among the two major GOP contenders.

But Rispone, a longtime donor to conservative causes and first-time candidate, can self-finance — and already put $10 million of his own cash into his campaign account.

Abraham and Rispone are in a contest to show which one is the more viable opponent to Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South. While all three candidates run on the ballot together, the Republicans are trying to build campaigns from the same base of support, largely seeking similar donors and voters.

The last campaign finance reports, filed in April, showed Abraham raised more money than Rispone from donors, but still fell far behind both Edwards and Rispone in cash in the bank. Abraham reported $1 million in his account, compared to $10.2 million for Edwards and $10.5 million for Rispone.

Updated campaign finance reports are due to the state ethics administration office in July.

While they're co-chairing Abraham's fundraising effort, Bollinger and Canizaro have helped others in the race. Bollinger donated to Rispone, and his family's businesses have given money to Edwards. Canizaro's also donated to both Edwards' and Rispone's campaigns.

Other names on Abraham's campaign finance committee include former U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery of Shreveport and businessmen Scott Ballard of Covington, Jonathan Bruser of Baton Rouge, Wayne Elmore of Lafayette, Steve Jordan of Lake Charles, James Moore Jr. of Monroe, Tom O'Neal of Choudrant, and Dennis Pasentine of Mandeville.

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