Peach State Politics (Oct. 16, 2021)

Georgia's most vulnerable lawmakers raking in campaign cash

Welcome back to Peach State Politics! This week, we’re going to be doing something a little different. Instead of going over a series of stories, this week we are only going to focus on fundraising. At the end of every quarter, congressional candidates and incumbents must report how much money their campaigns have raised over the last three months — as well as how much money they have in the bank. This week was the deadline for candidates to submit their quarterly fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). If these reports are any indication, we are looking at another year of competitive and expensive races here in Georgia.


Senate: Warnock has $17M on hand

Nearly 10 months after his upset victory, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s fundraising operation does not seem to be slowing down. In fact, quite the opposite: he raised more money in the third quarter than any U.S. Senator who is facing re-election next year, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

On Friday, the Warnock’s campaign announced a staggering $9 million haul in the third quarter. He enters the final months of the year with a over $17 million on hand, “more than any Georgia U.S. Senate campaign has reported at this stage in the election cycle,” his campaign said in a release.

Senators are normally elected to six-year terms, but Warnock will have to defend his seat in 2022 because he won a special election to serve the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term, which expires in 2023.

In the Republican primary to challenge Warnock, GOP donors very clearly prefer former football star Herschel Walker. The UGA football great and staunch Trump ally announced raising $3.7 million since entering the race in August. That’s more than what the other GOP candidates raised in the entire quarter: Former Trump national security official Latham Saddler raised $1.1 million, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black raised $570,000, and businessman Kelvin King raised $340,000.


GA06/GA07: McBath, Bourdeaux head into redistricting with hefty bank accounts

The two suburban districts currently occupied by Democratic Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux are set to be significantly altered by Republican state lawmakers in November’s redistricting session. But the two Democratic newcomers will surely be well-financed heading into the redistricting battle.

McBath, who represents the 6th district in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, raised more than $875,000 in the third quarter and has nearly $2 million on hand. Her main Republican rivals have so far been unable to compete with her fundraising abilities: former ethics commission chairman Jake Evans raised nearly $400,000 and loaned himself an additional $500,000, while former State Rep. Meagan Hanson amassed about $300,000.

Over in the 7th district, Bourdeaux’s campaign raised more than $730,000 in the third quarter, according to FEC filings. The freshman Democrat ended the quarter with $1.7 million on hand. Her main Republican rival so far is emergency room physician Rich McCormick, who was narrowly defeated by Bourdeuax in 2020 and is now seeking a rematch. McCormick raised about $625,000 in the third quarter and has $767,000 on hand.

The Georgia state legislature is set to redraw the state’s congressional boundaries in a special redistricting session next month. Based on a draft released last month, it appears likely that Republican lawmakers will draw McBath’s Democratic-friendly district into a more competitive seat, while making Bourdeaux’s swing district more secure for Democrats.


GA14: Greene has $3M on hand

Though she does not represent a competitive district, controversial GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene has proven to be one of the most talented fundraisers in the House Republican caucus.

Campaign filings show that Greene raised more than $1.5 million in the third quarter, far outraising several of her swing-district colleagues. She is currently sitting on a $3 million warchest.

Greene’s rural Northwest Georgia district is one of the most Republican-heavy districts in the south, giving former President Donald Trump more than 70% of the vote in last year’s election. So it’s not clear how exactly Greene’s campaign plans to spend this money.

Greene has closely aligned herself with former President Trump and his conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. Some Democratic candidates have announced that they will run against her in next year’s election, but they face a daunting task in this conservative district where Greene’s style of politics is likely popular.


Conclusion

In 2020, Georgia was one of the most expensive battleground states, and it will likely maintain that status in the 2022 midterm elections. Between a competitive Senate race and several competitive House races, control of Congress is going to run right through the peach state, and donors are well aware of that. Not to mention, we will also have several competitive statewide races, from Governor, to Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State. The bottom line: if you were tired of the onslaught of negative campaign advertising last year, 2022 is not going to be a great year for you.