Jack Kingston tops GOP U.S. Senate money race

Fourth-quarter fundraising totals for key races

U.S. Senate Republicans

Jack Kingston: $880,000 raised, $3.4 million on hand

Phil Gingrey: $137,000 raised, $2.3 million on hand

David Perdue: $227,000 raised, $1.76 million on hand

Karen Handel: $168,000 raised, $328,000 on hand

Paul Broun: $231,000 raised, $187,000 on hand

Fourth Congressional District Democrats

Tom Brown: $131,000 raised (from July 1), $108,000 on hand

Hank Johnson: $70,000 raised, $85,000 on hand

11th Congressional District Republicans

Ed Lindsey: $111,000 raised, $186,000 on hand

Tricia Pridemore: $72,000 raised, $176,000 on hand

Bob Barr: $122,000 raised, $94,000 on hand

Barry Loudermilk: $68,000 raised, $55,000 on hand

Rep. Jack Kingston has consolidated his strength as the top Republican fundraiser running for U.S. Senate, while DeKalb County Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson lags financially in a primary race to hold on to his job.

Freshly filed year-end fundraising reports set up the landscape for the final push to Georgia’s historically early May 20 primary elections. In the wide-open Senate race, created by Republican Saxby Chambliss’ decision not to seek re-election, only three candidates entered the year with significant sums in their bank accounts.

Kingston, of Savannah, leads the pack with $3.4 million on hand after raising $880,000 in the final three months of the year.

Rep. Phil Gingrey, of Marietta, had $2.3 million on hand, but it was mostly due to the head start he had from his U.S. House career. Gingrey's fundraising collapsed at the end of the year, and his $137,000 fourth-quarter haul came in a period when his top campaign staff quit en masse.

David Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, saw a decline in his outside fundraising, but continued to pump his own money into the race. After a $500,000 self-loan – making his personal contribution well more than $1.5 million so far – Perdue had $1.7 million in the bank at year’s end.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel raised and spent about $165,000 and had $328,000 on hand. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens spent $505,000, more than any other GOP candidate in the fourth quarter, but raised just $241,000, leaving him with $187,000 on hand.

Chip Lake, a Republican consultant who left the Gingrey campaign late last year, said a decent television advertising buy in the Atlanta market will cost about $300,000 a week, and the cost of hitting all the media markets in the state could reach $700,000 per week. Only Kingston, Gingrey and Perdue are likely to have enough cash for a real television campaign.

“You’re going to see a lot of these campaigns heavily targeting their resources,” Lake said. “They might choose to go maybe deeper on their digital efforts, direct mail efforts. As it relates to anybody making a solid splash on television, it’s just going to be very, very expensive.”

Kingston already sent a message by announcing that he reserved $1.29 million in television airtime in the run-up to primary day.

Whoever emerges from the July primary runoff is likely to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, the nonprofit CEO and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. She raised $1.6 million in the fourth quarter and had $2.46 million cash on hand.

In the Fourth Congressional District, Johnson is facing a stiff challenge in the Democratic primary from a well-funded opponent, DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown. One sign of potential trouble for the congressman: Johnson has just $85,296 left on hand compared to Brown’s $108,018.

Still, spokesman Andy Phelan said Johnson feels good about his chances.

“He’s confident that he will have the resources to take his message to the voters and win re-election based on his strong record of delivering for the Fourth District,” Phelan said in an email Friday.

Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said a sitting congressman with less than $100,000 in the bank heading into a tough election year is rare.

“It’s unusual and it is an indication that it’s a different kind of race than we’re used to seeing,” Swint said.

Johnson raised $70,015 and spent $38,159 on his re-election campaign during the last three months of 2013. Among his campaign donors: Bank of America, Citigroup, Google, Yahoo and defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Brown formally entered the race in late October but had been raising money for months before that through an exploratory committee. He raised $131,315 between July and December and gave his campaign a $20,000 loan. Brown spent $44,061.

Among Brown's donors: Brad Alexander, a political consultant who previously served as chief of staff to Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; Jay Davis, the chief executive of National Distributing Co. and a GOP donor; and state Sen. Emanuel Jones, a Democrat from Decatur.

In the spirited GOP primary for Georgia’s 11th Congressional District, former Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr raised the most last quarter, hauling in $121,681. But he spent $133,347 and has just $93,865 on hand in his efforts to replace Gingrey.

Barr, a former four-term member of Congress who lives in Smyrna, was hoping to replenish his campaign war chest Thursday at a fundraiser scheduled with Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is well known for his efforts to crack down on illegal immigration.

State Rep. Ed Lindsey of Buckhead has the most money left in the bank at $186,214. He raised $110,573 during the last quarter, including a $25,000 loan from himself. He spent $86,031.

Businesswoman Tricia Pridemore of Marietta raised $72,034 and spent $84,832. She has $176,237 left on hand. Former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cassville collected $68,248, spent $77,570 and has $54,800 on hand.