January 9, 2014

Pennington says he expected Deal to outspend him

Charles Oliver

— Dalton Mayor David Pennington says he’s neither surprised nor worried that Gov. Nathan Deal has raised more money so far than him.

“The only thing that’s surprising is that he didn’t raise more. Both Roy Barnes and Sonny Perdue (former governors) had raised more money than he has at this point,” Pennington said.

Year-end 2013 campaign contribution reports show Pennington badly trailing Deal, the man he plans to challenge in the Republican primary, in fundraising. Deal reported he had raised $7.6 million through Dec. 31, almost $4 million of that in the last six months of 2013, and had $4 million on hand.

Georgia’s general primary has historically taken place in July, but last year a federal judge set the primary date for congressional races on May 20. The General Assembly is expected to move the primary for all other state races to that day after it convenes on Monday.

Pennington had raised $374,676.99 and had $241,330.35 on hand, according to information his campaign filed with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission. While Deal’s contributions came from across Georgia as well as other states, most of Pennington’s money came from the north Georgia area.

State School Superintendent John Barge, the third announced candidate for the Republican nomination, had raised just $108,000 and had only $25,000 on hand.

“We knew from Day One he (Deal) was going to outspend us,” Pennington said. “We thought he was actually going to raise more, $5 million-plus (in the second half of the year. There was nothing alarming to us about this report. There is nothing discouraging about this. We now have enough money to pay our overhead. We don’t have the overhead he does, and we are raising money for television and direct mail.”

Pennington said he should have an advantage over Deal during the next several weeks. State law bans Deal from fundraising while the General Assembly is in session. Since Pennington does not hold a state office, he faces no such restriction, meaning he can continue to raise money after the session starts on Monday.

Pennington has said he plans to get more aggressive with his fundraising and plans to have a full-time fundraiser on board soon.

Among the companies and individuals contributing at least $6,300, the maximum amount that can be given for both the primary and the general election, to Deal’s campaign were Kings Hawaiian, Kipper Tool, Koch Industries, Kubota, James Magnus, Mansfield Oil Co., Michael T. Coan for Friends of Mike Coan for State Representative, Henry Monsees, Samuel Moss, Michael Neidorff, Edward Nelson, H. Osteen, Peach State Plan Inc., Centene Corp. PAC, H. Pettit, Pine Leaf Investments, Pollard Lumber Co., Jeff Pope, George Powers, Nancy Pruitt, Neil Pruitt, R.H. Ledbetter Properties, Ringgold Telephone Co., Emily Robinson, Ray Robinson, Charlton Rogers, Ronnie Rollins, H. Rosenberg, Savannah Distributing Co. Inc., C. Mark Senn, Sewon America Inc., Shoal Creek Inc., Southern Eagle Distributing, State Mutual Insurance Co., Kessel Stelling, Stephens MDS LP, Barry Storey, Summerhill, Benjie Tarbutton, Charles Tarbutton, Gena Tarbutton, Hugh Tarbutton, Jennifer Tarbutton, Douglas Tollett, UHS Pruitt Corp., Walters Management, Cynthia Waters, Wellcare of Georgia Inc., Charles Whitener, Wilheit Packaging, Winder Nursing, Joe Wood and Workplace Injury Network PAC.