Ask Congresswoman Karen Handel about her campaign for reelection and she doesn’t miss a beat. The Roswell Republican projects an air of confidence that suggests the most expensive congressional race in history is very much in her rearview mirror.
Soon after she was sworn into office, Handel began rebuilding her war chest for this year’s midterm elections. New campaign finance filings suggest the freshman has a sizable leg up on her opponents, a factor that will undoubtedly be watched closely by national Democratic groups eyeing a pickup opportunity in November.
Handel’s campaign raised roughly $261,000 between October 2017 and the end of the calendar year, according to new federal disclosures.
On it’s face, that figure appears to be only slightly more than the amount pulled in by Bobby Kaple, a Democratic newcomer and former Atlanta TV anchor. Kaple originally told Politically Georgia he raised about $255,000 since he entered the race in mid-October through the end of 2017. However, his campaign filings show that more than one-third of that money came from a loan he gave his campaign.
Not far behind was businessman Kevin Abel, another political newbie. He raised slightly more than $200,000 since jumping into the contest in late October, although a quarter of that was money he loaned his campaign.
In addition to fundraising, Handel also has a distinct advantage over Kaple and Abel through the money she has in the bank. Her campaign reported roughly $573,000 on hand, more than two-and-a-half times the amounts cited by the Kaple and Abel campaigns.
Richard Keatley, a college professor from Tucker who is challenging Handel for the second time in two years, said he raised $40,000 in the final months of 2017.
The race is being closely watched by House Democrats’ campaign arm and its allies. They see wealthy suburban districts such as Georgia 6th as essential to regaining control of the House in November.
The biggest question that has yet to be answered is whether Jon Ossoff, Handel’s Democratic opponent from last summer’s special election, will enter the race. The documentary filmmaker, who raised about $30 million in the race to succeed Tom Price, still hasn’t said whether he’s running again this year, though he’s dropped hints that he might run.
This story has been updated with new information from Kaple and Keatley’s federal campaign finance filings.