Who’s leading the money race in Georgia governor election

Convention goers cheer and boo as Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA) speaks at the Georgia GOP State Convention in Jekyll Island, Georgia on June 5th, 2021. Nathan Posner for the Atlanta-Journal-Constitution

Credit: Nathan Posner

Credit: Nathan Posner

After a series of close elections in the last few years, Georgia’s 2022 race for governor will be one of the most watched in the nation.

That means candidates and political groups will be asking Georgians and citizens outside the state’s borders to reach deep into their pockets.

In 2018, Gov. Brian Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in a race that cost more than $100 million. Kemp has been gearing up for a tough re-election fight for years.

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For now, Kemp’s main competition is former Democrat Vernon Jones, who is challenging him in the Republican primary. Jones, a former State Rep. and DeKalb CEO, has a controversial past. He raised about $650,000 in the last reporting period. More than half of Jones’ itemized donations have come from outside Georgia as he seeks to tap into Republicans angry that Kemp did not try to overturn Georgia’s presidential election, which was won by Democrat Joe Biden.

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If trying to challenge an incumbent was difficult enough, Jones has been burning through his cash. He has spent more than $500,000 of his haul. Meanwhile Kemp, who has been raising money for years and has the benefits of incumbency, has more than $9 million in the bank for the primary and eventual matchup against a Democrat.

The reason no major Democrats have announced is that Abrams is expected to run again. Abrams has a national profile and is a prolific fundraiser. The voting organization she founded in 2018 - Fair Fight PAC - has raised around $100 million. Georgia Republicans have started a “Stop Stacey” group even though she has not announced a run yet.