While Warnock raises big money for 2022, many Republican donors stand pat

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock scored another huge fundraising quarter for his 2022 quest to stay in office. His Republican rivals lagged far behind as many of the party’s most reliable donors stayed on the sidelines.

Warnock collected nearly $7.2 million between April and June, and he ended the quarter with more than $10.5 million in the bank. The Atlanta pastor tallied what his campaign said was the highest fundraising total for any Georgia candidate during an off-year fundraising quarter.

While Democrats have consolidated behind Warnock, who must face the voters again in 2022 after winning a special election, the GOP race remains unsettled.

The leading Republican fundraiser so far is a young military veteran who was virtually unknown in state politics before he entered the race. Many Republican heavyweights are waiting to see how the field shakes out — and whether University of Georgia football legend Herschel Walker, now living in Texas, enters the contest.

Latham Saddler has tried to fill the void. Saddler, a former Navy SEAL and banking executive who also worked in the Trump administration, raised more than $1.4 million during the three-month period and has about $1 million in the bank.

He ended the quarter with more cash than Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, the most prominent Republican in the contest so far. Black took in about $700,000 in the three weeks since entering the contest, and he spent about $20,000 of that sum.

A third contender, military veteran Kelvin King, raised about $370,000 and loaned himself an additional $300,000 during the quarter. He’s got about $560,000 left.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, right, recently picked up the support of former Gov. Nathan Deal in his bid for the U.S. Senate. He also raised $700,000 during his first three weeks in the race, ranking him second for the quarter among Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Credit: Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz jgetz@ajc.com

Though former Gov. Nathan Deal endorsed Black this week, many of the party’s movers and shakers have yet to pick sides — or dip into their wallets — with the field still so muddled. Senior GOP officials increasingly expect Walker to enter the race with Donald Trump’s support, freezing many donors.

That’s meant a tepid GOP fundraising pace. At this stage in the 2014 campaign to succeed Republican Saxby Chambliss, the last wide-open GOP race for the Senate in Georgia, big donors had already poured millions of dollars into the campaigns of a slate of Republican rivals.

Two contenders — then-U.S. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston — each reported having more than $2.3 million at the midpoint in 2013. That’s more than the three GOP contenders in this contest have in their accounts combined.

It puts the GOP at an early deficit. Warnock is a prolific fundraiser, amassing nearly $150 million during his 2020 campaign as part of a tandem of Senate races that were among the most expensive in U.S. political history.

Vulnerable Democratic incumbents in U.S. House contests also got off to a fast start, though those races are full of uncertainties, too. That’s because lawmakers armed with fresh census data are set to redraw the district maps later this year, reordering the political boundaries across the state.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who represents a Gwinnett County-based district, said she raised about $556,000 during the quarter and ended with $1.1 million in her account. Republican Rich McCormick, a physician who narrowly lost to Bourdeaux last year, had less than half that sum in the bank for his comeback bid.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Suwanee, left, collected about $556,000 in donations for the past quarter, putting her well ahead of Republican rival Rich McCormick in fundraising. Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath of Marietta took in about $770,000 for the quarter and has $1.3 million on hand while four Republicans are currently competing against each other to face her.

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And U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath collected about $770,000 over the three-month span, with more than $1.3 million in reserve, for her bid for a third term representing a district that now straddles parts of DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb counties.

Republican Harold Earls, a military veteran, reported raising $279,000, and another $52,000 transfer from an outside group, with $244,000 left in his coffers. Jake Evans and Meagan Hanson both jumped into the race in the past week, avoiding the need to disclose, though Evans boasted that he amassed $100,000 in the first day after he announced.

Other takeaways:

  • The fundraising reports offered little clarity in the race to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Jody Hice in northeast Georgia.

At least five candidates had $100,000 or more in the bank, and two — trucking executive Mike Collins and former state Revenue Commissioner David Curry — wrote themselves six-figure checks.

  • U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose hateful rhetoric earned her an unprecedented demotion, continued to raise significant cash off her say-anything approach. The Republican from Rome collected $1.3 million this quarter and has about $2.8 million in the bank.
  • U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff won’t face the voters again until 2026, but he’s not sitting still. The Democrat collected $790,000 over the past quarter and has about $750,000 in reserve.
  • Ossoff’s 2020 rival, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, still has formidable firepower even though he ruled out a Senate comeback. The Republican reported $4.25 million left in the tank.