Capitol Recap: Top of Georgia Democrats’ ticket rakes in big cash

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey reporter earlier this month that she raised more than $22 million in campaign contributions between May 1 and June 30. Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock reported this past week that he raised $17.2 million from April through June. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

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Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey reporter earlier this month that she raised more than $22 million in campaign contributions between May 1 and June 30. Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock reported this past week that he raised $17.2 million from April through June. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

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Warnock, Abrams both turn in sterling fundraising reports

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock reported raising $17.2 million in contributions between April and June, adding to the financial power at the top of the Democratic Party ticket.

Warnock’s haul far exceeded the take of his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, who said he collected nearly $6.2 million over the same three-month span.

Democrat Stacey Abrams showed a similar fundraising edge earlier this month in her campaign for governor, when she reported more than $22 million in contributions between May 1 and June 30. Her opponent, Republican incumbent Brian Kemp, took in about $7 million over the same two-month period.

Warnock has now raised more than $63 million for his reelection bid. Walker has collected more than $20 million in contributions since entering the race in August.

The Democrat also holds a huge edge in cash on hand, with roughly $22 million to almost $7 million for Walker. But Warnock also stepped up his spending, finishing the quarter with $3 million less in the bank than he did at the end of the previous quarter.

Warnock’s campaign said he collected contributions from more than 258,000 individual donors, with an average donation of $37.

Walker showed 50-state appeal, drawing contributions from 70,000 donors representing every state in the nation.

While the Democrats hold a fundraising edge, neither side is hurting for money, veteran strategist Rick Dent said.

“Both sides and their affiliated PACs and special interest groups have all the money in the world to convince voters why their candidates are the best and why their opponents are the very worst,” he said. “If Republicans lose this year, it won’t be because of a lack of money.”

Talk of surplus spurs Abrams’ call for tax rebate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, seizing on news that the state appears set to report another record budget surplus, is calling for a $1 billion tax rebate.

It sounds a lot like the $1.1 billion refund that her opponent, Republican incumbent Brian Kemp, signed into law during this year’s session of the General Assembly.

Kemp was already expected to call for some kind of tax rebate using the new surplus before Abrams made her appeal, but the governor can’t dish out that money for tax refunds without legislative approval.

Abrams has suggested a work-around: fund her proposed rebate using some of the $2.4 billion the state just received as a second installment of federal COVID-19 relief money, even though the Democrats in Congress who approved that outlay included provisions banning the use of the money for tax cuts.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Abrams urged Kemp to negotiate with the Biden administration to allow the rebate using COVID relief money.

Kemp used a large chunk of the first round of federal COVID relief for water and sewer improvements, high-speed internet projects and money to help businesses and nonprofits better recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. He also distributed some of it in the form of bonuses for law enforcement officers, firefighters and other first responders.

Abrams’ rebate would amount to $500 for joint filers, $375 for heads of households and $250 for single tax filers. It would be limited to Georgia households that make less than $250,000 a year, about 95% of the state’s income tax filers.

The state reported earlier this month that it ended fiscal 2022 on June 30 with $6.19 billion more in revenue than in fiscal 2021, which had been a record year. That’s a bump of about 23%.

The size of the state surplus for fiscal 2022 won’t be known until all the bills have been paid, but it is expected to be a record amount, likely more than $5 billion.

142,000 voters on path to being declared inactive in Georgia

More than 142,000 Georgia voters could be declared inactive if they don’t respond to notifications that election officials are sending out.

Eventually, they could see their registrations canceled.

The notifications are being sent to people who have appeared to move, either to other states or different counties within Georgia.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the notifications will help improve the accuracy of Georgia’s voter registration list, which includes about 7.7 million voters.

Nearly 63,800 of the notifications are being sent to people who appear to have registered to vote or obtained a driver’s license in another state, according to data from the Electronic Registration Information Center, an organization of 31 states.

An additional 45,700 moved to a different county within Georgia, and 32,800 moved out of state, according to national change of address forms submitted to the U.S. Postal Service.

Voter registrations won’t be canceled this year under the state’s “use it or lose it” law, which allows election officials to remove registrations of voters who failed to cast a ballot for at least eight years. Canceling voters because of their lack of participation can only occur during odd-numbered years between major elections, according to state law.

Mass voter registration cancellations, called voter “purges” by their critics, eliminated 534,000 registrations in 2017, 287,000 in 2019, and 101,000 in 2021.

Georgians can check their registrations online and sign up to vote through the state’s My Voter Page at

Credit: Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

Media barred at campaign events for Walker

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, following a series of damaging stories questioning his credibility, spoke at a pair of events recently that barred media access.

A staff writer from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was turned away at a Buckhead Young Republicans gathering after being told it was a “closed, private event.”

WABE’s Rahul Bali was then booted from a Hall County GOP meeting at a public park in Gainesville that was advertised as “open to all.”

In both cases, campaign officials said the event organizers set the protocol. But Hall County GOP officials countered that Walker’s aides dictated the no-media policy.

Walker has faced scrutiny after a number stories about false claims that he worked in law enforcement, assertions that he graduated from college when he has not, exaggerations about his business record and bizarre statements promoting a phony coronavirus cure.

Barring the media did not stop information from trickling out from Walker’s events. For instance, the Gainesville meeting featured Walker’s theory about climate change.

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air gotta move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we’ve got we to clean that back up,” Walker said.

Walker has been about as clear with his sourcing as that bad air over Beijing, but NPR ran a piece in 2017 titled “Smog in Western U.S. starts out as smog in Asia, researchers say.”

The conclusions of that research were not that it’s pointless to clean U.S. air. Instead, without the efforts here to control pollution, extreme heat events in the U.S. would have been more intense and dangerous.

Walker said this past week on News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB that he was “really just being funny” when he made the original comment. But he also said he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about because China is the globe’s top polluter.

Four Democratic statewide nominees fined over campaign disclosures

Four of the Democratic Party’s nominees for statewide office were among a group of candidates who agreed this past week to pay ethics fines after failing to properly file campaign disclosure forms.

State Rep. William Boddie, a candidate for labor commissioner, and state school superintendent hopeful Alisha Searcy will each pay $1,125 for failing to file disclosures on time.

State Sen. Jen Jordan, who is running for attorney general, and insurance commissioner nominee Janice Laws Robinson will each pay $625 for not initially disclosing yearly incomes.

They were part of a group of about two dozen candidates or former candidates who were cited by the state ethics commission for not properly filling out the new, more detailed financial disclosure forms.

New requirements for this year’s statewide candidates included disclosing their income for the past five years and identifying the source of those earnings. The disclosures had to be filed within seven days of qualifying for office.

Some statewide candidates appeared before the commission this past week, saying they had trouble figuring out how and what to report. David Emadi, the commission’s executive secretary, said there are sample forms on the agency’s website to help guide candidates, and that he sent them emails explaining how to do it.

Others who agreed to pay fines included Catherine Davis, who lost in the GOP gubernatorial primary, and U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, who fell short in the Republican primary for secretary of state.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

U.S. reps draw a bead on UGA profs’ map of crisis pregnancy centers

U.S. Reps. Andrew Clyde and Jody Hice are calling on the University of Georgia to halt its association with a website that identifies the locations of crisis pregnancy centers across the nation.

In a July 7 letter to UGA President Jere Morehead, the two Georgia Republicans cite a Fox News report from late June that said “far-left radicals” were targeting the centers using a map two of the university’s professors created with addresses for anti-abortion clinics.

The map is not published on UGA’s internet domain, but a UGA email address is offered on the contact page and its launch was noted on the website of the College of Public Health.

The map provides basic information about each center, including whether pregnancy tests or “limited” medical services are provided. It says the centers “primarily aim to prevent people from having abortions.”

Nearly 100 of the centers are listed in Georgia.

The congressmen said they don’t want university resources used in a “reckless and irresponsible” way, and they noted that the professors’ website refers to the centers as “fake women’s health centers.”

Supporters of abortion rights have been critical of such centers. Planned Parenthood, in a blog post last year, said they have “a shady, harmful agenda: to scare, shame, or pressure you out of getting an abortion, and to tell lies about abortion, birth control, and sexual health.”

The College of Public Health appeared to address the controversy with an online message published June 25, the same day as the Fox News report.

It said the professors created the map in 2018 “to promote academic research and increase public awareness” about the centers, and it compiles with publicly available information about their locations.

“The authors of the site condemn all threats or acts of vandalism or violence against crisis pregnancy centers,” it said.

Political expedience

Ex-sheriff backs Walker: Former Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren endorsed Republican Herschel Walker’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Walker had claimed earlier this year that he had worked in law enforcement, including the Cobb Sheriff’s Office, although Cobb officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they could find no evidence Walker worked for them. Warren, who was voted out of office in 2020, said this week that Walker “partnered” with the office for 15 years, leading training on leadership while also advocating for mental health. “I was proud to name him as an honorary deputy sheriff due to his tireless efforts in support of law enforcement,” Warren said.

Temp job? Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ employment at the White House appears to be a short-term gig, Politico reports. The White House told Politico that Bottoms is classified as a “special government employee,” a designation for workers who usually don’t stay beyond 130 days unless exceptions are made. Bottoms is also earning $50,000 less than her predecessor as director of the office of public engagement, former U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond. But he also held the title of “assistant to the president.” She does not.

Lieutenant governor fundraising: State Sen. Burt Jones, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, collected about $657,000 in campaign contributions between May 1 and June 30, the most recent filing period. He supplemented that take by loaning $2 million to his campaign. His Democratic opponent, Charlie Bailey, raised about $65,000 over that time period. The Libertarian candidate, Ryan Graham, reported about $1,400 in donations during the filing period.

Secretary of state fundraising: Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen, in her quest to become secretary of state, raised $874,266 between May 1 and June 30. The incumbent, Republican Brad Raffensperger, took in about $305,000 over that time.

Attorney general fundraising: Democratic state Sen. Jen Jordan raised $601,000 over the past two months in her campaign for attorney general. Chris Carr, the Republican incumbent, collected $577,000 during that period.

School superintendent fundraising: Former Democratic state Rep. Alisha Thomas Searcy, in her race for state school superintendent, raised nearly $98,000 between May 1 and June 30. Her opponent, Republican Richard Woods, took in just under $55,000.

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