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Strain Fundraising 

  State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain hopes to fill his campaign coffers with a $250-a-person fundraiser Thursday (Oct. 22) at the Old State Capitol. Strain's first annual "Fall Ball" has 21 honorary and bipartisan hosts signed on, ranging from Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal to Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. The affair will help Strain raise cash to repay campaign loans — from himself. He repaid some $100,000 in personal loans in 2008, but campaign finance reports earlier this year showed Strain's campaign still owed the commish roughly $500,000. Since the 2007 statewide elections, he has been among the weakest fundraisers at the statewide level. In related, but much more official news, Strain also wants to raise funds for his key constituency. He fired off a letter to Jindal several weeks ago requesting that the governor push the U.S. Agriculture Department to make a federal disaster declaration to protect farming parishes hit by severe droughts. During the early summer, a lack of rain drastically reduced yields of cotton, rice, soybeans and sweet potatoes. Jindal has since written the feds. Strain says the disaster declaration would allow farmers and ranchers to participate in federal assistance programs. — Alford

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