Peach State Politics (July 16, 2021)

Georgia incumbents, candidates bring in the big bucks ahead of 2022 elections

Welcome back to Peach State Politics! I enjoyed my two-week hiatus, and I hope you all are staying safe and cool this summer. Before you go hop into the pool or fire up the grill, let’s get you up to speed on this week’s biggest stories in Georgia politics!

As we gear up for another whirlwind election cycle, this week’s edition will be focused solely on recent fundraising reports from Georgia candidates and incumbents. Let’s just say that money will not be a problem for most candidates next year.

Governor: Kemp kicks off re-election campaign with record haul

With no declared Democratic challenger yet and a Republican opponent considered a significant underdog, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is building a massive campaign warchest as he gears up for his 2022 re-election campaign, a race that will undoubtedly be the fight of his political life. The first-term Republican announced earlier this month that he had raised nearly $12 million so far, almost a third of which was raised in the aftermath of Georgia’s controversial new election law. The sum is being described as a record for an incumbent Governor at this stage in their re-election campaign:

“The Republican’s robust fundraising outpaced other incumbent governors. At this stage in their re-election bids, Roy Barnes raised roughly $4 million, Sonny Perdue collected $7.6 million and Nathan Deal amassed about $3.7 million.”

Kemp, a one-time Trump ally, has drawn the ire of the former President and his inner circle for refusing to overturn Joe Biden’s 12,000-vote victory. He faces what many see as a longshot primary challenge from Vernon Jones, a former Democratic state lawmaker from DeKalb County who has emerged as one of Trump’s most outspoken supporters. Since entering the race, Jones has raised about $650,000, an amount his campaign is hailing as a record for a primary challenger to an incumbent Georgia Governor.

Kemp is also facing growing pressure from Democrats, some of whom still believe that he used his power as Secretary of State to purge voter rolls in the months leading up to the 2018 election. Despite this pressure, though, no Democrat has announced a challenge to Kemp yet. But voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, his 2018 opponent, is widely expected to mount a rematch. Her new voting rights organization, which was founded in the days after her narrow defeat, recently announced that they have raised more than $100 million since it was created.

Senate: Warnock triumphs GOP challengers in dash for cash

Over six months have passed since U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s historic election. While the Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor will have to ask Georgians for a full six-year term next year, his recent fundraising report suggests that he will not go down without a fight.

The Democrat reported raising $7 million in the second quarter of 2021, a sum that his campaign calls a record for a statewide candidate during an off-year quarter. He has over $10.5 million in the bank.

Meanwhile, the Republican field to challenge Warnock remains largely frozen as everyone awaits a decision from Trump ally Herschel Walker. Three other candidates — Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and military veterans Latham Saddler and Kelvin King — have entered the race so far. Black announced that he raised $700,000 since entered the race three weeks ago. Saddler, who has been in the race for over two months, raised $1.4 million. King raised about $670,000, more than half of which was a self-loan.

GA06/GA07: McBath, Bourdeaux have over $1M on hand ahead of redistricting

Even the uncertainty surrounding redistricting isn’t stopping two of Georgia’s most vulnerable members of Congress from bringing in campaign cash. U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) and Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee), who occupy hypercompetitive districts in metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs, both reported having over $1 million on hand at the end of the second quarter.

McBath, who represents the 6th district, first won her seat in a shocking upset in 2018 and was comfortably re-elected to a second term last year. According to her campaign, the gun control activist raised $770,000 in the second quarter. She has drawn several interesting Republican challengers in recent days, such as former State Rep. Meagan Hanson and former ethics commission chairman Jake Evans.

Bourdeaux, who represents the neighboring 7th district, narrowly won her seat last year after falling just a few hundred votes short of doing so two years earlier. She raised over $550,000 in the second quarter. As Democrats grapple with a narrow House majority, the Georgia State University professor is being heavily targeted by Republicans eager to flip this seat back into the Republican column. Rich McCormick, her 2020 opponent, is planning on running again and reported raising $317,000 in the second quarter.

But before they can campaign for re-election, they both must wait and see what their new districts will look like. Republicans will once again be at the helm of redistricting, the once-in-a-decade process by which state lawmakers reconfigure congressional and other political boundaries to account for population shifts reflected in the recent Census. Most of the time, the party that oversees the process will attempt to draw maps that benefit their own candidates, a tactic political observers commonly refer to as “gerrymandering.” Very few people expect Georgia Republicans to act any differently, which means either (or both) McBath and Bourdeaux could find themselves facing more conservative constituencies in just a matter of months.

GA14: Greene has $2.8M on hand

Controversy and money. Those seem to be the two things that follow Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome) wherever she goes. The rabble-rousing Congresswoman just wrapped up yet another record-breaking fundraising quarter, bringing in more than $1.5 million and ending the period with nearly $2.8 million in her bank account. We normally don’t see these types of numbers from freshman lawmakers, let alone ones from safe seats.

Greene, as we are all aware, is widely known for her associations with the debunked far-right conspiracy theory known as QAnon. She has also left disturbing comments on social media about mass shootings and has parroted former President Donald Trump’s unproven claims of voter fraud. More recently, she came under fire for likening COVID-19 restrictions to tactics used in Nazi Germany. She apologized at a press conference after visiting the Holocaust memorial in Washington.

These controversies appear to be only fueling her fundraising efforts. Two Democrats have announced plans to challenge her, but they have their work cut out for them in this rural district that backed Trump by nearly 50 percentage points — and that’s putting it nicely. It is not yet clear, however, if Greene will face any challengers in next year’s Republican primary.

LG: Miller wallops Dem field

State Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) is off to a pretty big start in the race for Georgia’s second-highest office. The Senate President Pro Tempore, who entered the race for Lieutenant Governor over a month ago, announced that he has raised more than $2 million since joining the contest and has $1.4 million on hand. Most of his money, though, has come from high-dollar fundraisers headlined by GOP heavyweights such as former Gov. Nathan Deal.

While Miller’s haul comes with an asterisk, it still far outpaces the two Democrats who have joined the race so far: State Rep. Erick Allen (D-Smyrna) raised $106,000 since entering the race in March. State Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-Tyrone) has raised less than $75,000 since throwing his name into the contest. Both Democrats have about $100,000 and $70,000 on hand, respectively. These fundraising totals have led some Georgia political observers to wonder if a high-profile Democrat may join the race.

SOS: Raffensperger outraised

Embattled Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has emerged as a frequent punching bag of former President Trump, was outraised by his Trump-endorsed challenger in the last fundraising period. The Republican incumbent filed a report saying that he raised nearly $250,000 in the last fundraising period, $50,000 of which was a self-loan.

He is being challenged by U.S. Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro), a darling of the far-right who voted to invalidate electoral college results in several swing states that Trump lost. Hice, who has been endorsed by Trump, has raised $575,000 since entering the race in March, more than double Raffensperger’s haul. David Belle Isle, who Raffensperger defeated for the Republican nomination in 2018, raised $164,000 since entering.

On the Democratic side, State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) also outraised Raffensperger, bringing in $386,000 since joining the race for Georgia’s top elections official. Another Democratic candidate, John Eaves, reports raising about $26,000, half of which was a loan from himself.

AG: Jordan outraises Carr, Bailey

State Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) announced in April that she would join the race to be Georgia’s top law enforcement official. Since then, the Atlanta attorney has jumped ahead in the race for cash, bringing in nearly $675,000 since entering the race. That’s more than both the Republican incumbent, as well as her top challenger for the Democratic nomination.

A report filed by Attorney General Chris Carr (R) said that the Republican raised about $575,000. Jordan may have outraised him, but the Republican still maintains a cash on hand advantage, having around $1 million in his bank account.

Jordan also faces competition in the Democratic primary from prosecutor Charlie Bailey, who Carr narrowly defeated in his 2018 campaign for a full term. He entered the race shortly after the Democratic victories in January’s U.S. Senate runoff elections. According to his report, Bailey raised nearly $295,000 since joining the fray. He has about $480,000 to spend.

Where to find more fundraising reports

If you are looking for more fundraising reports from Georgia candidates, here are some helpful links!

For fundraising reports for congressional candidates, you can click here.

For fundraising reports for statewide candidates, you can click here.