The Jolt: Money advantage unlikely to bridge partisan gaps in Georgia races

News and analysis from the politics team at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is a fundraising juggernaut. But she can’t keep up with her Democratic challenger, Marcus Flowers.

Flowers has raised more money than any other non-incumbent, $14.5 million, and he ranks No. 7 out of all candidates this election cycle. Greene is No. 10 with $11.6 million raised.

During the fundraising quarter that ended Sept. 30, Flowers received a total of $3.7 million in contributions in his bid to unseat the highly controversial incumbent.

Greene raised $1.4 million during the same time frame. And she ended the quarter with more left in the bank: $2.2 million compared to Flowers’ $1.3 million.

Still, it remains notable how the national outrage toward Greene continues to create windfalls for Flowers’ campaign. His campaign also invests heavily in outreach to donors across the country, further increasing cash flow.

But that doesn’t change the dynamics of the northwest Georgia 14th District or the race. The area is heavily conservative, and Greene is the favorite to win another term in office.

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Another Democratic underdog, 1st Congressional District candidate Wade Herring, is also celebrating his fundraising haul. His campaign pointed out that he surpassed Republican incumbent Buddy Carter in individual donations last quarter.

Herring collected $321,814 from donors during the period, compared to Carter’s $155,863. But Carter still had more in donations overall when you add in $197,450 he received from political action committees.

And Carter is not lacking for dollars with $1.9 million cash on hand, compared to Herring’s $101,801.

Still, the amount Herring collected from individual donors is notable for a Democrat running in a conservative district where he is the underdog. He has managed to draw attention and support for his race, even if it is unlikely that he will pull out an election upset.

A Democrat better positioned for success is U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, the most successful Senate fundraiser this campaign cycle. He has collected over $111 million from donors in his attempt to shrug off a challenge by Republican Herschel Walker.

By comparison, Walker has raised just shy of $32 million. However, outside spending by political parties and political action committees will boost both candidates.

Georgia’s U.S. Senate race is still a close one, although recent polling shows Warnock pulling ahead after a series of missteps and controversies by Walker.


KEMP/ABRAMS RECAP. It was clear during the first rematch debate between incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams that there is no love lost between the two. In case you missed the sparring, our colleague Shannon McCaffrey has the recap:

Kemp used every opportunity he could to tout the record he has built since he defeated Abrams in 2018. That was especially true when it came to the state's economy. As he has done on the campaign trail, he credited his decision to reopen the state from COVID-19 lockdown protocols with amassing a healthy budget surplus, totaling more than $6 billion this year …

Abrams accused Kemp of “beating his chest" but delivering little for the people of Georgia when it comes to challenges like crime, gun violence, housing prices, health insurance and women's rights.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As the moderators understandably focused on the majority party candidates, Libertarian nominee Shane Hazel, who is polling in the low-single digits, complained he wasn’t getting enough time. When he was allowed to speak, Hazel spouted anti-government rhetoric and misinformation. And his closing statement went on so long, his mic got muted.

After the debate, an NBC reporter asked the Atlanta Press Club about the decision to invite longshot candidates like Hazel to the Loudermilk-Young debate series. The Press Club said that it invites all candidates on the ballot, regardless of polling.


ACCEPTING THE OUTCOME. There seemed to be some confusion Monday night over whether Stacey Abrams committed to accepting the results of the next election.

Asked during the debate whether she will accept the results, no matter the outcome, Abrams listed instances of problems for voters trying to cast their ballots in the last election and the current one.

“I intend to stand up for the right to vote,” she said. “I will always acknowledge the outcome of elections. But I will never deny access to every voter because that is the responsibility of every American to defend the right to vote.”

That response led a spokesman for Gov. Brian Kemp to tweet, “For those watching at home, Stacey Abrams just refused to say if she’ll accept the results of the election this fall — again.” Abrams did not use the word “concede” after her 2018 race to Kemp.

The Abrams team called that assertion “more lies.” After the debate, Abrams’ camp said her comments that she’ll “always” acknowledge the results of elections includes her plan to recognize the outcome of her race in three weeks.


LISTEN UP. We’ve promised you episodes of the Politically Georgia podcast every Wednesday and Friday —and whenever news breaks. And Jolt Nation, news never seems to stop breaking these days.

So along with the special debate episode that we taped from Savannah breaking down the Sen. Raphael Warnock-Herschel Walker debate Friday night, we’ve got an all-new episode this morning, taped at the studios, of the first gubernatorial debate between Gov. Brian Kemp and his Democratic challenger, Stacey Abrams, along with Libertarian Shane Hazel.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast for free at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.


MCCARTHY MONEY. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy huddled with state Republican leaders at a Buckhead firm to promote 2nd District nominee Chris West’s campaign.

Among the Republican lawmakers we saw at the private fundraising luncheon were Reps. Andrew Clyde, Drew Ferguson, Marjorie Taylor Greene and House candidates Mike Collins and Rich McCormick.

Afterward, McCarthy spoke in an interview about why the House GOP is more optimistic about flipping the southwest Georgia District 2, held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop.

“It became a race when Sanford Bishop voted with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time, and now we have inflation like we haven’t seen in 41 years,” said McCarthy.

“We have crime that we haven’t had in 20 years. Your paycheck has been pretty much taken away from you because of what inflation and cost of living has done.”

Bishop called it another example of “national Republicans putting power and party over the needs of people” in his district.

“McCarthy knows that Chris West has no experience in the legislative process and cannot deliver results for the people of Georgia, but he wants power and a vote to be speaker,” said the Democrat in a statement.


Credit: John Spink / AJC

Credit: John Spink / AJC

HUGE TURNOUT. In something of a surprise, the first day of early voting attracted more than 125,000 voters — dwarfing the previous midterm record of 72,000 from the first day of the early-voting period in 2018.

State elections official Gabriel Sterling said the first-day total could yet rise as the final figures are tallied. But it won’t likely pass the 140,000 or so ballots cast on the first day of the early-voting period in the 2020 election.

Check out our running tally.


Credit: Greg Nash / The Hill

Credit: Greg Nash / The Hill

CHAIRMAN GRAHAM? It was a GOP show of force for Herschel Walker Monday night when Sean Hannity aired a one-hour town hall event for Walker, taped earlier in the day in Acworth.

Along with Hannity and Walker, U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both South Carolina Republicans, were on hand to make the case for both Walker and for flipping control of the upper chamber to Republicans.

“One more vote and Tim is the chair of the Banking Committee instead of Sherrod Brown,” Graham said of the progressive Ohio Democrat who currently oversees banking policy for the Senate. “One more vote and I am the chair of the Budget Committee instead of Bernie Sanders.”

“If we pick up one more seat, all this crap goes away. And the road to the majority runs through Georgia.”

Also on set for a portion of the event was state Sen. Burt Jones, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor.


ABORTION STORIES. Stacey Abrams is up with a new ad this week, featuring couples sharing the stories of miscarriages, along with fears that Georgia’s new restrictive abortion law could subject miscarriages to criminal investigations in the future.

Although extracting a fetus from a failed pregnancy is named in the law as permissible, Democrats argue that a neither a medical professional nor a law enforcement official would be able to tell the difference between a legal miscarriage and an illegal medical abortion without investigating the circumstances of the lost pregnancy.

“Stacey Abrams can reverse this law,” one man says. “And that’s why we’re voting for Stacey Abrams.”



  • Gov. Brian Kemp is hosting a Farmers for Kemp Rally at Maule’s Seaplane Opry House in Moultrie today.
  • Herschel Walker’s Unite Georgia Bus Tour will stop in Buckhead at Penley Art Co. this afternoon. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will join him.
  • U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock holds an early voting rally in Carrollton this afternoon.
  • Rich McCormick, the Republican nominee in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, will host a Health Care Town Hall this morning at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Nebraska, will join him.


Credit: Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / TNS

Credit: Miguel Martinez/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / TNS

VOTER GUIDE. With early voting now underway, the AJC Voter Guide is still available with information about candidates up and down the ticket.


APPLYING FOR RELIEF. The form to apply for President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program is now available online.

Biden announced Monday that over 8 million people applied over the weekend through an early version of the form that was posted as a beta test. About 40 million Americans should qualify to receive up to $20,000 of loan forgiveness. The program is available to people with federal loans who make less than $125,000 a year or $250,000 for couples.

Credit: Pete Marovich / The New York Times

Credit: Pete Marovich / The New York Times

In Georgia, About 1.5 million residents are eligible for loan forgiveness, and nearly 70% of those are also Pell Grant recipients who would qualify for the maximum amount, the White House said previously.

Federal officials say borrowers should apply by Nov. 15 if they want to see their balances wiped before the COVID-19 pause on payments ends this year. But the application will be available through 2023.

That could also allow balances to be reduced ahead of any changes brought to the program by lawsuits or congressional action from conservatives who have criticized the initiative.

The application is available at


Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ryan Fleisher for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

NO MIC DROP. Atlanta performer Killer Mike, who stumped for Bernie Sanders in 2020, made waves earlier this month when he criticized Stacey Abrams and complimented Gov. Brian Kemp “for an effective week with Black people.”

But the rapper, whose real name is Michael Render, won’t be endorsing anyone in the governor’s race. He told his followers not to “waste ya time being mad” that he made glowing comments about Kemp two years ago, such as saying he had a “strong chance” to be a two-term governor. The two also shook hands and posed for pictures.

“As a Southern man, I connected pretty much instantly with him,” Mike said at the time. “Politics and policy don’t matter to me as much as human decency and principles, and he seemed to be a principled human being when I talked to him.”

On Monday he tweeted: “U better get to door knocking and Canvassing for your side. I have not publicly endorsed any candidate and will be keeping my vote a private matter.”


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