Eddie Rispone

Eddie Rispone

BATON ROUGE, La. -- He's the man who may be responsible for a runoff if nobody gets 50 percent of the vote. A self-made millionaire who most of us had never heard of until his commercials started hitting the airwaves.

He fashions himself as somebody new to the game of politics.

"I'm not a politician, I am a business person, I am an outsider, I am a CEO, I am someone who is not beholding to special interest, I am not someone who is doing this for political gain," said Eddie Rispone, Republican candidate for governor.

This is his first time running for political office, a definite contrast with Gov. John Bel Edwards and Ralph Abraham. But Rispone is no stranger to politics.

About 20 years ago he served on the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry's board and with his local chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors. In 1996, he was also the Pelican Chapter president of ABC, which lobbies in Washington for builders and contractors.

According to campaign finance records, the Baton Rouge businessman has spent more than a million dollars to influence Louisiana politics over the past four years. Some of those he donated to include former Sen. David Vitter, former Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Republican Party.

KTBS spoke with him at an energy conference in Lafayette. He said if he could have found someone to support for governor this time around he wouldn't be running. The 70-year-old millionaire made his money in construction. He and his brother started ISC Constructors 30 years ago in Baton Rouge.

"It's pretty obvious, you don't get somebody like me to run for governor unless they think they can get something done," said Rispone.

He certainly has put his money where his mouth is, having already put over $11 million of his own money into his campaign. And he's committed to spending $5 million on TV advertising time.

In one of his TV ads he says, "I supported President Trump against Hillary, gave him money, put a bumper sticker on my truck and I support our President more than ever."

Aligning himself with President Trump is a big part of his strategy with Louisiana voters.

"Look what happened on a national level when we went out and elected our president. An outsider, a businessman, someone who's not beholden to special interest, someone who says he's going to do something and does it, doesn't need the job. That's what we're going to have in Louisiana, that's what we need and that's what I'm here for," Rispone said.

Another pillar of what he is trying to get across to voters is that he is a Christian conservative. In another TV ad he says, "I believe in the power of prayer, not government. I'll call on his guidance everyday."

"I trust in God. God has asked me to do this and I know that he is going to be with me the whole way," said Rispone.

He doesn't consider himself a part of the establishment or the good ole boy network in Louisiana and that's something he wants everybody to know as we head towards election day.

"In the last few weeks I realized that we do have a good ole boy network amongst the Republicans as well as the Democrats. They don't want me. They don't want someone that is independent, someone that they can't control," Rispone said.

Rispone also said he would have no trouble working across party lines. He says he has contributed to Democrats over the years and would welcome the opportunity to work with people on the other side of the aisle on some issues.

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