Gov. Brian Kemp has only been in office six months, but he’s already preparing for a tough, costly re-election campaign in 2022.
Kemp reported Monday that his campaign had raised $726,000 between the end of the 2019 General Assembly session in April and June 30.
As of last week, his campaign for re-election had $1.27 million socked away for a possible rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has yet to indicate whether she’ll have another go at the Republican in 3 1/2 years.
While Abrams hasn’t announced what she might run for, Kemp is building a war chest with the expensive 2018 campaign fresh in his memory.
Kemp narrowly beat Abrams in a hotly contested gubernatorial race that cost about $100 million when the candidates and groups supporting them are included in the calculation.
In her end-of-the-year report, Abrams’ campaign said she spent $27.4 million, the most any candidate has ever spent to run for governor in Georgia. Kemp wasn’t far behind at $21.4 million.
Abrams has a national fundraising reach, taking in thousands of donations from outside of Georgia, while Kemp raised most of his money locally.
But Republicans currently run the statehouse, and that advantage for Kemp has shown up in his most recent reports.
Before Kemp won the nomination, statehouse lobbyists, political action committees and traditional big donors backed then-Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. But that all changed when Kemp hammered Cagle in the July GOP primary runoff. The lobbyists and other donors’ allegiance, and money, shifted to Kemp.
A quick review of Kemp’s latest report — from April through the end of June — showed he collected about $100,000 from statehouse lobbyists and their firms. Lobbyists for GeorgiaLink, which may have the longest list of powerful clients at the statehouse, contributed $23,500 alone. Mark Middleton, a longtime lobbyist who served on Kemp’s transition team, and his wife contributed $14,000.
PACs and business groups with lobbyists gave an additional $75,000 to Kemp’s re-election campaign. They included Georgia Power, the Alliance of Community Hospitals, the Community Bankers Association, UPS and nursing home giant United Health Services.
Kemp’s campaign also received a boost from numerous leading business executives, such as automobile dealer Mark Hennessy ($19,000) and boutique hotel developer Richard Kessler ($18,100).
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