Tom Price for governor rumblings grow with $116K in Georgia donations

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, left, who is rumored to be considering a run for governor in 2018, speaks to the Georgia Senate, his former political home. Next to him is Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, also considered a possible candidate for governor. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell has contributed nearly $50,000 to state legislative candidates since July 1, adding to the speculation that he may be considering coming back to Georgia to run for governor in 2018.

In all, Price has contributed more than $116,000 to about four-dozen Republican state lawmakers and candidates this year after donating little to incumbents or challengers during the past four years.

Good-government groups like Common Cause Georgia have long objected to laws allowing politicians like Price to raise money for their campaigns and then funnel it to other candidates. They argue it can be used to essentially purchase political allegiance. But both parties have long followed the practice and have been reluctant to change the system.

Among those who received $2,600 checks from Price, through Sept. 30, were House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R- Newington, House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens and Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.

It’s not like Price is hard up for campaign cash: he hasn’t faced a competitive opponents since the 2004 primaries and his congressional campaign account had $2.3 million banked as of Sept. 30.

Price’s contributions are usual for members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, most of whom have given little or nothing to state candidates this year.

State campaign filings show retiring U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Columbus, had given $2,000 in total to four candidates.

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, was listed as having contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Valdosta state House hopeful Deidra White, the wife of Georgia House Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla. He also gave $250 to the campaign of Rep. Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson, who made news earlier this year by calling attempts to bring down or alter Confederate memorials "cultural terrorism" and saying the Ku Klux Klan "made a lot of people straighten up."

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