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October 15, 2013

Kingston leads money race for Georgia Senate seat

ATLANTA — In the race for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, the fierce competition for donors is underway and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston continues to dominate when it comes to raising money among Republican candidates.

Over the past three months, Kingston has received more than $800,000 in contributions and has about $2.9 million in cash. It’s his third consecutive quarter in which he has raised $800,000 or more.

“Jack continues to demonstrate that he’s got the momentum on the fundraising side,” said Eric Tanenblatt, a GOP strategist who served as finance co-chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. “He’s winning the money primary, and that’s impressive.”

Whether the fundraising haul will translate into votes remains to be seen, although the large cash flow will create major opportunities for expanded voter outreach — paying for expensive TV ads and campaign mailers. In a statewide race with a crowded field of Republicans, money can make a difference, especially as Kingston looks to raise his profile among voters outside his congressional district in Savannah.

This week, businessman David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, released his first report since forming an exploratory committee five months ago, showing about $810,000 in contributions. He also donated $500,000 of his own money to his campaign and made a $500,000 personal loan.

Perdue said he will not be self-funding his campaign, but wanted to demonstrate to donors that he was invested in his campaign. At the end of the quarter, he had about $1.3 million in cash on hand.

The rest of the Republican field was running about even in terms of money raised. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta received just over $287,000 in the past three months, while U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens had about $280,000 in contributions. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel reported about $286,000 in contributions.

The big difference among the three was in cash on hand. Gingrey, who along with Kingston was able to transfer a significant sum from his congressional campaign account, had about $2.5 million in the bank. Meanwhile, Broun had about $450,000 in cash and Handel had roughly $312,000.

Each candidate has been drawing on his base of supporters to build a fundraising network. Gingrey, an OB-GYN, has been working to gather the support of medical and health professionals across the state. Broun has been looking to capitalize on endorsements from Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman popular for his libertarian views, and the political action committee of the conservative group Citizens United.

Handel, meanwhile, is the only candidate to run statewide and has been working to tap into the network she built during the 2010 governor’s race, in which she narrowly lost a Republican primary runoff to Nathan Deal.

The U.S. Senate seat became open after Republican Saxby Chambliss announced he would not be seeking a third term.

The eventual winner of the Republican primary will be favored to hold the seat for Republicans, although Democrats are gearing up to compete. The front-runner among Democrats is Michelle Nunn, who reported receiving $1.7 million in the first 10 weeks of her campaign.

Nunn is the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, who represented Georgia for 24 years.


Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter:—Christina.


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