By MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has drawn his first Republican challenger in next year's governor's race.

Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone filed state paperwork Wednesday declaring his candidacy for the 2019 election.

Rispone tells The Associated Press: "I am definitely running. This is it."

Rispone, founder of an industrial contracting company, is a longtime donor to GOP and conservative campaigns and causes. The wealthy businessman says he plans to invest his own money in what will be an expensive governor's race.

Edwards, a Democrat seeking his second term, reported $5 million in his campaign account earlier this year. Rispone says he's setting aside a similar amount of his own money "to get started" and will start fundraising immediately.

Rispone says he'll make an official campaign announcement later this year.

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