With four months left until Election Day, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams are on track to obliterate the Peach State’s record for gubernatorial campaign fundraising.
The Abrams campaign raised about $9.8 million during the last two months alone, while her One Georgia leadership committee brought in another $12.3 million in May and June.
That far surpasses the $3.8 million Kemp’s campaign raised during the same period, to go with $3 million in contributions to Kemp’s Georgians First Leadership Committee.
Abrams also enjoyed a huge advantage in cash on hand at the end of last month: $18.5 million for Abrams to just more than $7 million for Kemp.
And those numbers don’t count the millions of dollars being spent on TV ads by independent groups on behalf of the two candidates.
No matter which of the two ends up raising more money, it’s a cinch neither will be strapped for cash when they need it during the campaign’s final months, said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia.
“They’ve got plenty of money to pay staff, buy up TV time, do mailings and hire people for social media,” Bullock said Friday. “They’ll leave no stone unturned.”
Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said it’s no surprise that Abrams and Kemp will break the gubernatorial fundraising record they set four years ago, when Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams. Since 2018, Abrams has launched the national voting rights organization Fair Fight, landed on the list of Democrats President Joe Biden considered for his vice presidential running mate, and gone on speaking tours across the country.
“Stacey Abrams is an international star,” Swint said.
Kemp, on the other hand, built momentum for the stretch run by soundly thumping former U.S. Sen. David Perdue in May’s Republican primary, overcoming former President Donald Trump’s endorsement of his opponent.
“Kemp has proven he can win a tough election without Donald Trump’s help,” Swint said. “He’s not going to have a problem raising money, either.”
Also contributing to the swollen fundraising numbers is that this year marks the first gubernatorial election in Georgia involving leadership committees. The General Assembly enacted legislation last year authorizing the formation of leadership committees that can raise and spend unlimited contributions on behalf of top statewide and legislative candidates.
Although majority Republicans passed the bill over Democrats’ objections, Abrams has made good use of her leadership committee.
But the Abrams campaign can’t afford to rest on the laurels of its fundraising prowess thus far, campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo warned in a lengthy appeal for contributions released Friday.
“To unseat an extreme incumbent who has championed a dangerous and unpopular far-right agenda, we know that we have to out-raise and out-work his built-in advantages of free media and doling out funds secured by federal Democrats that he opposed,” she wrote. “We have to continue this momentum so we reach millions of voters across the state.”
Kemp campaign spokesman Tate Mitchell said Abrams enjoys her own fundraising advantages in the wide net she is able to cast.
“Far-left radicals from across the country are bankrolling Stacey Abrams’ campaign to bring the failed agenda of D.C. Democrats to Georgia,” he said.
“Abrams and her liberal allies can – and will – continue to outraise and outspend our campaign, but we will continue to run on Governor Kemp’s record of putting Georgians first and securing historic economic success for our state.”
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.