Georgia statehouse interests pony up in Atlanta mayor’s race, too

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about how well Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed — members of opposing political parties — get along and work together on issues affecting the city and state.

That connection is holding true for a lot of statehouse special interests that traditionally give big to top Capitol politicians such as Deal but are putting money into the Atlanta mayoral race as well.

State political action committees, lobby firms and top donors who typically pony up for state candidates reported donating to seven leading mayoral candidates in recent months, according to disclosures filed this week.

Some of them already do business with the city. Others may be looking for work from City Hall once new management moves in.

For instance, Troutman Sanders, one of the leading Capitol lobbying firms and major donors to Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, contributed $1,000 each to the mayoral campaigns of Peter Aman, Keisha Lance Bottoms and Ceasar Mitchell.

Holland & Knight, whose top statehouse lobbyist, Robert Highsmith, is paid to represent the city of Atlanta at the Capitol, contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Mary Norwood. Highsmith is also Reed's attorney and a close ally who was the mayor's colleague at Holland & Knight before he moved into City Hall.

Another top Capitol lobbying firm, McGuire Woods, reported giving $500 each to Bottoms and Mitchell. The firm already represents the Atlanta school system at the statehouse. McGuire Woods lobbyists are major backers of Cagle's campaign for governor.

Some big-company political action committees, such as those for Delta and SunTrust, that typically show up as major donors to top state campaigns also gave money in the mayor’s race.

The Georgia Restaurant Association reported donating $1,500 to the campaign of mayoral candidate John Eaves, and $1,000 each to candidates Norwood, Cathy Woolard and Vincent Fort.

Major road builders, always big donors to state campaigns, also are involved in the race. C.W. Matthews and E.R. Snell Contractor Inc., two of the state's biggest road builders, gave $1,000 and $2,600, respectively, to the campaign of Bottoms, who is Reed's choice to replace him.

State politicians got in the game as well. State Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and Republican Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens chipped in $1,000 each to Norwood's campaign. Roy Barnes, the last Democratic governor in the state, gave $4,000 to Fort's campaign, and state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, reported giving $2,000.