Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp leaves the podium after he addressed budget committees in January. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Gov. Kemp raises $110,000 in weeks before General Assembly session

After surviving the most expensive governor’s race in Georgia history, Gov. Brian Kemp’s re-election campaign raised about $110,000 in the two weeks leading up to the start of this year’s General Assembly session.

State law prohibits Kemp and lawmakers from raising money during the General Assembly session. The aim is to reduce the appearance that lawmakers are influenced by money from lobbyists and business associations during the session.

Some lawmakers hold fundraisers to get checks from lobbyists just before the session, but governors, especially new ones, generally don’t have to work too hard to collect money for re-election from those eager to get on their good side.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last month that Georgia’s nationally followed gubernatorial race likely cost more than $100 million, including money spent by political parties and PACs.

Kemp beat Abrams by about 55,000 votes out of 3.94 million cast in the general election after ousting the onetime GOP front-runner— Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle — in July’s Republican primary runoff.

In her end-of-the-year reports filed in January, Abrams’ campaign said she spent $27.4 million, the most any candidate has spent to run for governor in Georgia. Kemp wasn’t far behind at $21.4 million.

Kemp’s contributions during the first few weeks of 2019 leading up to the session - before he was inaugurated - almost all came from inside of Georgia and mostly from individuals without obvious ties to state legislation or funding.

The day before the session began, his campaign did receive $6,600 from the political action committee for new car dealers, who are expected to continue what has become an annual fight with used car dealers over taxing auto sales this session.

Other donors included the Georgia Restaurant Association ($2,500), Georgia Mining Association ($1,000), veteran lobbyists Pete Robinson ($6,600) and Terry Hobbs ($250), mining association lobbyist Lee Lemke ($250) and Georgia Power lobbyist John D’Andrea ($500).

Kemp’s campaign ended the month with $717,000 banked for his likely 2022 re-election bid.

X