Georgia’s governor candidates already have raised almost $5 million as Republican heavy hitters Casey Cagle and Brian Kemp and Democrat leader Stacey Abrams announced their early fundraising totals.
Cagle, the lieutenant governor and a Hall County native, announced on Monday that he’s raised $2.7 million in the three months since he launched his campaign. Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced last week that he’s raised $1.7 million.
Both Cagle and Kemp broke the previous fundraising record for the first reporting period, already showing the high stakes of the race among Republicans to replace Gov. Nathan Deal. Monday is the first reporting deadline for gubernatorial candidates.
“The level of financial support we have received is immensely humbling and encouraging,” Cagle said in his Monday announcement.
Cagle, who has been lieutenant governor since 2007, has struck a more moderate conservative tone within the GOP primary and has courted metropolitan voters in Atlanta in addition to mainstream conservatives.
Kemp, an Athens resident first elected as secretary of state in 2010, has set himself to Cagle’s right, organizing a grass-roots campaign in the style of President Donald Trump.
“Clearly, the people of this state are ready for a governor who will put hardworking Georgians first,” Kemp said in an announcement last week.
While launching his campaign in April, Cagle played up his bipartisan bona fides and his record on education reform by rolling out an endorsement from Atlanta broadcaster and registered Democrat Monica Pearson.
Meanwhile, Kemp has stuck to his campaign themes of support for rural Georgia and hostility to illegal immigration, so much that Cagle has rolled out online advertising emphasizing his opposition to sanctuary cities.
Both Cagle and Kemp included endorsements from prominent figures of University of Georgia football in their fundraising announcements. Cagle has earned the support of Ray Goff, UGA’s coach from 1989 to 1995, and Kemp noted the support of Barbara Dooley, a celebrated philanthropist and wife of 25-year UGA coach Vince Dooley.
The GOP primary so far includes Cagle, Kemp, state Sens. Hunter Hill of Atlanta and Michael Williams of Cumming.
Seth Weathers, a political consultant for Williams, said Tuesday the campaign has raised $1.1 million, noting Williams has only been in the race for four weeks, while the other candidates have been fundraising “for months.”
Hill’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for information.
Republicans have blasted past 2010 benchmarks for early fundraising.
At this point in the 2010 primary election, Cagle had raised $1.26 million and Deal was sitting on $1.23 million. Cagle eventually dropped out of the 2010 race and Deal breezed through the primary to become Georgia’s second governor from the GOP.
In the Democratic primary, Georgia House Minority Leader Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans are so far the only two candidates running for their party’s nomination.
Abrams’ fundraising haul sits at $541,758. She announced the total on Monday while touting her number of small donors; the Abrams campaign has received 3,000 donations, half of them for less than $25. Her average donation was $180.
“Our campaign will harness the power of all Georgians to change the state, and this work must begin early,” Abrams said in her announcement. “Because families across our state have chipped in and donated their time, Georgia will be a place where people have the opportunity to succeed — not just survive.”
Evans’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for information.
Of the leading candidates from both parties, Cagle has received the fewest individual donations even while he stays $1 million ahead of Kemp.
Cagle reported more than 1,200 donations to make up his $2.7 million haul — an average rate of $2,250 per donation. Kemp’s campaign said he had received 1,600 donations for his $1.7 million, or $1,062 per donation.
Georgia’s 2018 primary election is set for May 22.