Georgia Democrats raise far more cash than Republicans in final stretch of race

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, shown greeting supporter Onita Howard to a during a press conference in Atlanta, reported raising $21.3 million over the three months ending Sept. 30. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Democratic candidates in some of Georgia’s most competitive congressional races broke fundraising records during the most recent quarter, far outpacing Republican opponents.

But while Democrats celebrated their hauls, saying they were indicative of grassroots support, Republicans maintain that in some cases the majority of money came from outside Georgia.

Jon Ossoff’s campaign said the $21.3 million haul reported for the three-month period that ended Sept. 30 is the most raised by any U.S. Senate candidate in state history. Candidates faced a Thursday deadline to file their paperwork.

The average contribution to Ossoff was roughly $35, and 97% of the donations were under $100, his team said. He has $8.3 million in cash on hand.

“With less than three weeks to go, our grassroots juggernaut is firing on all cylinders to send Jon to the U.S. Senate,” said Ossoff’s campaign manager, Ellen Foster.

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Still, fewer than 1 in 5 individuals who donated at least $200 to Ossoff’s campaign last quarter listed Georgia addresses, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s analysis of Federal Election Commission data. By comparison, about half of the donors to his Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, live in the state.

“This further shows that Ossoff is hopelessly out of touch with Georgia families and would be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the far left if elected,” said John Burke, Perdue’s communications director.

Donors who gave less than $200 are not reflected in federal campaign finance reports, making it impossible to determine what percentage came from out of state. Ossoff raised $8.7 million in unitemized small donations during the quarter, compared with Perdue’s $1 million.

Perdue, who came into the campaign with a sizable war chest, raised about $5.6 million in total over the reporting period. He has about $8.2 million left in his account.

Both candidates are also getting massive advertising support from their political parties and outside political action committees.

In Georgia’s other Senate race, Democrat Raphael Warnock outpaced the crowded field of opponents in fundraising with $12.8 million. The special election will determine who completes the remainder of retired U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term after Kelly Loeffler was appointed to fill it temporarily.

The two leading Republicans in the race are Loeffler and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who raised $2 million and $2.3 million, respectively, during the period.

Loeffler also loaned her campaign $5 million during the third quarter, bringing her total investment to $20 million.

Her husband, Jeff Sprecher, founder of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, also contributed $5.5 million to a super PAC campaigning on Loeffler’s behalf.

That group, Georgia United Victory or “GUV” for short, has aired rounds of attack ads that skewer Collins. Polling indicates that Loeffler and Collins are battling it out to determine who meets Warnock in an expected January runoff, and both candidates have focused on building support among conservative voters.

The fundraising success for Democrats continued into the state’s two most competitive U.S. House races, both seats in suburban Atlanta.

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath raised $2.2 million in the quarter, and she has nearly $1.9 million in cash on hand. Her Republican opponent, former U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, brought in $826,745 last quarter and has $1 million left in her account.

Handel, who was unseated by McBath in 2018, came back for a rematch in hopes that increased Republican turnout puts the 6th Congressional District seat back in the party’s hands.

Carolyn Bourdeaux, the Democratic candidate in the 7th Congressional District, is making a second bid after narrowly losing to incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall in 2018. Woodall is retiring, and Democrats nationwide have eyed the seat as one ripe for flipping blue.

Bourdeaux celebrated her $2.1 million haul, pointing out that she has declined to accept checks from corporate interests. Nearly 9 in 10 individual donors contributed $200 or less. She ended the period with $911,731 in the bank for the final stretch.

“Carolyn Bourdeaux’s record-breaking numbers are no accident — they’re a product of the deep grassroots relationships she has built and her winning message of fighting for affordable health care,” said her campaign manager, Shelbi Dantic.

Republican opponent Rich McCormick’s campaign said Bourdeaux’s fundraising success should be taken with a grain of salt. The AJC found that 45% of itemized donors to Bourdeaux listed Georgia addresses, compared with 55% of McCormick’s supporters.

He collected $1.1 million last quarter and had $689,129 in cash on hand.

“Carolyn Bourdeaux’s finance report makes it clear that she’ll be a voice in Congress for the people of New York and California," campaign manager Al Chaul said, "not Gwinnett and Forsyth (counties).”

ExploreGeorgia voter guide

BALANCED COVERAGE

As the November elections approach, we always try to present as much information as possible from both sides so that readers can reach their own conclusions. Today’s story, for example, contains comments from representatives of Democratic and Republican campaigns.

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