Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the Democratic challengers seeking to unseat Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, reported a combined $210.2 million in contributions over the past two months in reports filed Christmas Eve.
The individual totals were almost evenly split with Warnock reporting $103.4 million in receipts to Ossoff’s $106.8 million, a record-shattering pace of contributions fueled largely by small-dollar donations.
The Republican incumbents reported huge fundraising numbers as well. Loeffler reported a total of $64 million raised since mid-October. Perdue brought in $68.1 million over the same time period.
In all, the four candidates in the Jan. 5 runoffs for control of the U.S. Senate combined to raise more than $340 million. And each surpassed the $57.9 million Jaime Harrison raised in the third quarter of this year in his unsuccessful campaign against Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. At the time, that fundraising haul was the best quarter for any U.S. Senate candidate ever.
In outside spending, conservative political action committees have outspent progressive PACs in the runoff race. But the robust fundraising by the Democrats’ campaigns level the playing field somewhat when it comes to purchasing ads or canvassing for voters.
The enormous combined haul only underscores the national importance the Democratic Party places on flipping the two seats and delivering a narrow Congressional majority to incoming President-elect Joe Biden.
Warnock campaign manager Jerid Kurtz said the campaigned was “humbled by the grassroots support and generosity” of the donations.
“Millions of people have donated their time, energy and contributions to help us communicate with Georgians all over this state to help deliver Rev. Warnock’s strong, moral leadership and bring change to Washington on January 5th,” he said.
“Jon Ossoff is leading one of the most focused and mobilizing campaigns Georgia has ever seen, and we are proud of the work we are doing to drive voter turnout ahead of Jan. 5,” campaign manager Ellen Foster added.
The Perdue and Loeffler campaigns did not issue statements on their campaign reports.
With less than two weeks to the runoff, another important campaign metric is cash on hand, since candidates need money for get-out-the-vote efforts. By this measure, the campaigns are fairly evenly matched.
Loeffler had $21.3 million on hand as of Dec. 16, while her opponent Warnock had $22.8 million. Ossoff reported $17.5 million in the bank, compared to Perdue’s $16 million.
The campaigns have spent more and raised more than reported here. The pre-runoff reports are a point in time measured eight days ago — a near eternity in this fast-paced runoff — and the campaigns are reporting hundreds of thousands in donations in daily, supplemental reports.
While the campaigns received some transfers of money from party committees, PACs or other sources, all four candidates received the vast majority of their contributions from individuals. The campaigns were aided by online fundraising platforms — ActBlue for Democrats and WinRed for Republicans — soliciting millions of small-dollar donations from people across the nation. The Ossoff campaign said 97% of its individual donations were less than $200.
In normal times, the numbers aren’t what one would expect in a state-level race. By way of comparison, Joe Biden raised $112 million between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, records show.
Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, raised just $26.5 million for her whole campaign in a hard-fought race that brought in contributions from party-backed PACs and donations from around the country.
The Collins race also proved that money isn’t everything. Her Democratic challenger outraised Collins by two and half times, and still lost.
AJC politics reporter Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.
Both incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, are wealthy enough to self-finance their own campaigns if they choose. Here is a breakdown of their income and net worth compared to Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Occupation: U.S. senator
Annual income from salary and fees: $174,000
Annual income from investments and assets: Between $740,478 and $2.2 million
Net worth: Between $14.9 million and $42.6 million
Occupation: documentary filmmaker
Annual income from salary and fees: $0
Annual income from investments and assets: Between $404,720 and $1.7 million.
Net worth: Between $2 million and $7.3 million
Occupation: U.S. senator, Intercontinental Exchange executive
Annual income from salary and fees: $3.6 million
Annual income from investments and assets: Between $3.4 million and $8.9 million
Net worth: Between $300 million and $800 million
Occupation: Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church
Annual income from salary and fees: $386,439
Annual income from investments and assets: Between $1,005 and $6,809
Net worth: Between $555,014 and $1.3 million