The leading candidates in this year’s race for governor in Georgia are (top row, from left) Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, former Republican state Sen. Hunter Hill, (bottom row, from right) Republican businessman Clay Tippins, former Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans and Republican state Sen. Michael Williams. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

TV tally: Georgia gov candidates spend more than $12M on campaign ads

The seven candidates for Georgia governor have poured more than $12.7 million into a burst of TV and radio ads ahead of next week’s primary. And there’s more to come as the contenders dig deeper into war chests totaling more than $22 million.

The biggest spender, by far, is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. The Republican front-runner has spent more than $4.3 million on ads touting his education and economic agenda. He’s been bolstered by $1 million more from Citizens for Georgia’s Future, a pro-Cagle outside group. 

Stacey Evans snapped up the most airtime of either Democrat, spending at least $1.3 million through the weekend, according to an analysis conducted by Strategic Media Services. 

Her rival, former House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, has spent a relatively meager $500,000 on ads, and records show she wasn’t on air in metro Atlanta during stretches of April and May. 

Her campaign has focused on grass-roots engagement of voters, and she’s said traditional TV-focused advertising is no longer as effective as it once was.

But she can afford the hands-off approach thanks to plenty of backup from third-party groups. BlackPAC, PowerPAC Georgia and Emily’s List combined to spend nearly $2 million boosting her campaign, giving Abrams air cover the last two months of the race. 

On the Republican front, Secretary of State Brian Kemp has now spent more than $1.5 million on airtime, steadily increasing his buys to pair with attention-grabbing ads. Two other rivals, former state Sen. Hunter Hill and executive Clay Tippins, have spent about $1 million each. 

A fifth candidate, state Sen. Michael Williams, is also in the race. 

In all, about $9.1 million was spent on ads for the Republican campaigns, while Democrats have shelled out more than $3.6 million. 

Read more recent AJC coverage of the campaign for governor:

Shifting political ground pushes Georgia candidates away from center  

Abrams, Evans sharpen attacks over HOPE in gov forum  

Georgia 2018: Evans bets on gambling as new divide in gov race  

Abrams banks on debt as advantage in final stretch of gov race  

Brian Kemp: His pitch to conservatives leans hard on law and order  

Clay Tippins: Executive aims to send waves through governor’s race  

Michael Williams: Senator has been Trump backer with similar tactics  

Why Georgia Republicans are shifting to the right on guns  

Hunter Hill: Military vet wages running war on ‘career politicians’  

Casey Cagle: A GOP favorite tries to fend off conservative attack  

How Gov. Deal is shaping the race to succeed him  


Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.