State Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) has long said his goal at this point in the campaign for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination was to stay "under the radar and out of the crossfire." Apparently, he's been doing that while also raising a ton of cash.
Johnson has raised more than $960,000 for his campaign, a huge number considering that he was originally running for lieutenant governor and that he only began his gubernatorial campaign two months ago.
"I'm happy to be in fourth place in name identification," Johnson said Tuesday at the Capitol. "But this is real. These are votes with hard-earned dollars."
Johnson has generally been considered to be running behind top-tier candidates such as Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, Secretary of State Karen Handel and U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal. But his fund-raising performance should change that, Johnson said.
Deal raised more than any other candidate, pulling in nearly $980,000. Handel's campaign said she raised $430,000 and had $325,000 in cash on hand. Oxendine, meanwhile, raised $420,000, his campaign said.
Among Democrats, House Minority Leader DuBose Porter (D-Dublin) will report raising $231,000 with $225,000 in cash on hand in his bid for the 2010 Democratic nomination for governor. Former Adjutant Gen. David Poythress, another Democratic contender, raised about $150,000 in this most recent period. Among Democratic gubernatorial candidates, only Attorney General Thurbert Baker had yet to file by press time. Former Gov. Roy Barnes, who has said he'll seek his party's nomination, did not officially join the fray until this month and does not have to file yet.
"For the time frame we had, we're excited," said Porter, who, like many candidates, did not begin raising money until after the General Assembly adjourned for the year in April. "We feel we're just where we want to be."
The deadline to file the reports with the State Ethics Commission was midnight Tuesday, although the commission was experiencing computer server failures late Tuesday afternoon that could have delayed some filings.
Only Deal, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Tifton) and states' rights activist Ray McBerry of McDonough had filed by press time. Handel, Johnson, Oxendine, Poythress and Porter released their figures to the media but had not actually filed paperwork with the commission.
The reports show money raised and spent from Jan. 1 through June 30. They are a key indicator of campaign organization and momentum more than a year out from the July 2010 primaries.
Johnson was going to run for lieutenant governor before incumbent Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle dropped out of the governor's race to seek re-election due to a medical condition. Johnson had to refund the more than $400,000 he had raised for his lieutenant governor's campaign, but he was able to get more than $366,000 back from those donors.
Johnson has more than $913,000 in cash on hand after this filing period.
"In only two months, we were able to exceed all expectations and our own internal fund-raising goals, thanks to the generosity of so many Georgians and the hard work of our finance team," Johnson said.
Scott, meanwhile, raised more than $180,000 in the past two months and has more than $85,500 in cash on hand.
Scott, considered a long shot for the nomination, had a strong showing at the state Republican Convention in May and is currently on a well-publicized walking tour of the state.
Scott's total has to be considered strong for a candidate with limited name recognition in much of the state.
McBerry reported raising more than $18,000 for his campaign in the first six months of 2009.
Considered a long shot to win the nomination, he has $3,400 left in his account after spending more than $15,000.
Amount raised, and cash on hand, as reported by the 2010 candidates for governor in filings with the State Ethics Commission on Tuesday.
Candidate Raised On hand
Nathan Deal (R) $974,685** $1.15 million***
Eric Johnson (R) $962,773.40* $913,483.20
Karen Handel (R) $430,000* $325,000
John Oxendine (R) $420,000* More than $1 million
DuBose Porter (D) $231,000* $225,000
Austin Scott (R) $180,620.00** $85,578.53
David Poythress (D) $150,000* Unknown
Ray McBerry (R) $18,596.44** $3,424.38
Sources: *campaign e-mail; ** State Ethics Commission
***(includes $250,000 loan)