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  Political watchers were eagerly sifting through the latest filings with the state Ethics Administration last week, hoping to glean advance peeks at candidates' financial strength on the eve of qualifying. The state ethics office requires candidates for statewide offices to file quarterly financial reports, and the latest round was due July 2. Qualifying is Sept. 6-8.

  The reports offer strong hints as to who's in and who's out.

  • The lieutenant governor's race looks to be a well-financed scrap, with Republican incumbent Jay Dardenne raising more than $450,000 in just a few months. Challenger Billy Nungesser, also a Republican, pulled down nearly $287,000. Their cash-on-hand totals are reversed, however, with Dardenne at $524,000 while Nungesser has just over $1 million. Nungesser is already out working the state. In the past two weeks, he's done everything from slamming BP at a meeting of business professionals in Lafayette to sitting in a dunk tank at Zephyr Field for a charity event organized by New Orleans Saints safety Darren Sharper.

  • Anh "Joseph" Cao, the former GOP congressman who lost his seat to U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond last year, filed papers announcing the formation of a committee for his run for state attorney general against incumbent Buddy Caldwell, who switched from Democrat to Republican earlier this year. Also mentioned as possible challengers to Caldwell: Louisiana Senate president Joel Chaisson, D-Destrehan; and U.S. Rep. Jeff Landry, the Tea Party-backed GOP freshman who lost his base to redistricting earlier this year.

  • Caroline Fayard, the New Orleans Democrat who showed strength in last year's race for lieutenant governor — then delivered an infamous speech at a March meeting of the Washington Parish Democratic Party, where she said, "I hate Republicans" — filed for an unspecified statewide office. In May, Fayard announced her intention to run for Secretary of State and said a formal declaration would come soon, but her most recent filing left her intentions unstated.

  • Tara Hollis, the "conservative Democrat" long shot challenging Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, looks like an even longer shot when you see the numbers. Hollis raised only $3,335 in the last seven-and-a-half months and has less than $1,000 on hand. In contrast, Jindal raised $335,000 over the last three months and has more than $8.8 million in his campaign war chest. — Kevin Allman

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