Sharon Gay leads pack in fundraising for Atlanta mayor’s race

Former mayor Kasim Reed a close second after just three weeks in the race
Atlanta's mayoral candidates recently submitted their campaign finance reports for the June 30 disclosure deadline. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Atlanta's mayoral candidates recently submitted their campaign finance reports for the June 30 disclosure deadline. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

The Atlanta mayoral election has a surprise leader in the race for cash: Dentons attorney Sharon Gay raised just over $1 million, but leaned heavily on her personal bank account to do it.

Gay, who launched her campaign in April, reported raising $1.09 million on her June 30 financial disclosure, with nearly 65% of that money coming in the form of a personal loan.

Meanwhile, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has immediately demonstrated his formidable fundraising ability, reporting that he has raised $1.05 million just three weeks after entering the race.

Gay, a former deputy chief of staff and executive counsel to Mayor Bill Campbell, said in a statement that she’s “overwhelmed by the growing support we are receiving for our campaign.” She has just over $991,000 cash on hand, according to her disclosure.

“I am convinced that we have been able to get such a fast start because so many people across our city are ready for a mayor who has the knowledge, expertise, experience and honesty to tackle the serious issues we are facing, particularly reducing crime and lawlessness across Atlanta,” Gay said in the statement.

Reed reported $979,000 on hand, and his disclosure shows dozens of businesses and residents gave up to the maximum $2,800, including several people and companies involved in the entertainment industry.

Many of Reed’s donors live outside of Georgia. He also loaned his campaign $28,000.

Reed, an attorney who served in the Georgia legislature for 11 years before his 8-year stint as Atlanta mayor from 2010 through 2017, said in a statement that the amount “is a testament that the voters in our city believe I am the best person for the job.”

Republican strategist Brian Robinson said Reed’s disclosure shows broad support in the community.

“This is not a fool’s errand” for Reed, Robinson said.

Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore was the first candidate to launch a campaign in January, but she comes in a distant third in the race for funds — reporting $726,813.

Moore is a real estate broker who represented a northwest Atlanta district on the council before being elected council president in 2017. Her campaign’s current balance is $604,061.

Moore said in a statement Friday that 84% of her contributors live in Atlanta, “proving that our positive message of change continues to be incredibly well received.”

“We are humbled and grateful for the depth and breadth of support received from the hard working people and small businesses from every corner of Atlanta,” Moore said. “We’re confident we will continue to build all of the resources we need to earn a clear victory in November.”

“This shows she is a serious candidate with a strong base of support,” Robinson said of Moore.

City Councilman Andre Dickens, who launched his campaign two months ago, reported $589,823. He loaned himself $800, records show, and has just over $546,000 on hand.

Dickens unseated an incumbent in 2013 to win a citywide council seat before he was reelected in 2017. His campaign said in a statement on Tuesday that he received donations from nearly 1,000 people from every district in the city, and most of them were contributions of $250 or less.

Finance reports show Dickens reallocated $32,777 in council campaign funds to his mayoral account. A member of the Dickens campaign staff told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the council campaign donors gave Dicken permission for the transfer.

Dickens said in a statement that his fundraising turnout illustrates how he’s running “the people’s campaign.” He said it shows his message of “creating a safe, united and ethical city government is resonating.”

Dickens is the chief development officer for TechBridge, which provides affordable technology and workforce training to nonprofits.

Atlanta City Councilman Antonio Brown reported $309,676 after his two months in the race.

Brown joined the council after a 2019 special election. He owns a luxury shoe company called LVL XIII, and an education charity called Dream of Humanity. His filing shows $280,957 on hand, with several large contributions from Georgia-based companies.

Brown was not immediately available for comment Friday.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who pulled out of the race in May and therefore did not have to file a campaign disclosure, reported raising nearly $612,000. She has a balance of $258,963 after spending $413,000.

Bottoms previously told the AJC that she will announce her endorsement after the Aug. 20 qualifying deadline. The next financial disclosures are due Sept. 30.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter J.D. Capelouto contributed to this article.

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