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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Republican businessman Eddie Rispone is raking in more campaign cash after becoming the lone GOP contender in the Louisiana governor's race against Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards.

Rispone, owner of an industrial contracting firm, had largely self-financed his campaign in the primary election as he competed with another Republican, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, for dollars. But that's changing since Rispone reached the Nov. 16 runoff and the competition between the Republican challenger and the Deep South's only Democratic governor tightened.

Finance reports filed with the state ethics administration office Wednesday night show Rispone raised just under $3 million from donors in the latest period, which began shortly before the primary election and ended Oct. 27.

That fundraising haul is nearly double the $1.6 million Rispone had previously raised during his entire fundraising effort since announcing his candidacy in October 2018.

Many of Louisiana's GOP campaign donors appear to have waited until they were certain Edwards couldn't win outright in the primary and the Republican field was whittled to one to start dedicating cash to the race.

In addition, the competition is drawing intensified national partisan interest, with President Donald Trump urging support for Rispone and trying to keep Edwards from reaching a second term. The president is seeking to show his political influence ahead of the 2020 elections.

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Though he had an uptick in fundraising, Rispone, a longtime GOP political donor making his first bid for office, also increased his personal campaign loans to $12.5 million for the race, adding another $1 million of his own cash to his campaign account since reaching the runoff.

Edwards continued the strong fundraising pace he's shown during the entire campaign, raising $5.2 million over the same period.

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Rispone ended the reporting phase with $2.3 million in the bank, compared with Edwards' $1.5 million. Outside groups, including the Republican and Democratic governors' associations, also are spending millions on the race.

Early voting continues through Saturday.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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