As primary neared, Kemp took in big money and Perdue’s fundraising lagged

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia (left) with former Senator David Perdue shake hands before the debate on Sunday, April 24, 2022at the WSB-TV in Atlanta. Sunday, April 24, 2022. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia (left) with former Senator David Perdue shake hands before the debate on Sunday, April 24, 2022at the WSB-TV in Atlanta. Sunday, April 24, 2022. Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Brian Kemp always had a huge money advantage over his Republican rival, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, in his reelection bid, and last-minute contributions surged as Tuesday’s primary neared.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of campaign reports showed there were individual days in May when Kemp’s campaign raised almost as much money as Perdue did in the three weeks leading up to the primary.

By the end of April, Kemp had raised more than six times what Perdue had collected since entering the race in December with the backing of former President Donald Trump.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll in late April showed Kemp leading Perdue by 26 percentage points, and the spread got wider in the following weeks.

A review of two-day reports — filings candidates make in the weeks before an election any time they collect donations of $1,000 or more — showed Kemp took in about $850,000 in big-money contributions over the past three weeks. Perdue reported collecting about $165,000.

On one day, May 5, Kemp reported collecting about $148,000 in big-money donations, mostly from South Georgia. Perdue didn’t report any contributions of $1,000 or more that day. On May 10 Kemp raised a similar amount, including several contributions from St. Simons Island, Perdue’s stomping grounds. Perdue reported collecting three contributions totaling about $20,000 that day.

Perdue — as is typical of former members of Congress — received a much higher percentage of his contributions from out-of-state donors than Kemp. Incumbent governors traditionally raise a lot of money from lobbyists, their clients and other business interests with a big stake in state government.

Democratic-nominee-to-be Stacey Abrams — who had raised almost as much in six months as Kemp did in more than three years before May 1 — collected about $675,000 in big-money contributions in the three weeks leading up to the primary. Like Perdue, much of that money came from out-of-state donors, including $7,600 from Melinda Gates, $7,600 from actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and $1,000 from country star Trisha Yearwood.

The two-day reports don’t give a full picture since candidates also receive smaller contributions. Abrams’ campaign in particular has a massive national small-dollar contribution network that helped her raise the most money in Georgia gubernatorial race history when she ran against Kemp in 2018. Kemp narrowly won that race. Abrams is running unopposed in Tuesday’s primary and will face Kemp in a rematch if he wins the GOP primary.