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9th District race one of four high-dollar congressional battles in Georgia

ATLANTA— Candidates in Georgia's four most competitive congressional races are raising and spending millions as they look toward June 9 primaries or November general elections.

Two of the high-dollar races are Republican primaries for open seats in northeast Georgia's 9th District and northwest Georgia's 14th. Those big fields are likely to go to party runoffs now set for August, producing strong favorites for the general election. Two more races are in the 6th District and 7th District in suburban Atlanta, races both the Democratic and Republican parties are targeting nationally. 

In the 9th District, where incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is instead running for Senate, six Republicans raised more than $100,000 during the period, although two relied heavily on loans from themselves. State Rep. Kevin Tanner, who raised $223,000 including a $50,000 loan, has the most cash on hand at $197,000. He's trailed by Forsyth County lawyer Ethan Underwood, who has $189,000 to spend, after raising $232,000 including a $160,000 loan. Others who raised more than $100,000 are state Rep. Matt Gurtler, gun store owner Andrew Clyde, state. Sen John Wilkinson and former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun. The 9th District includes Hall County and much of Northeast Georgia.

Incumbent Tom Graves is stepping down in the 14th District, and eight of the nine Republicans vying to replace him have raised sizeable sums, many bankrolling their own campaigns. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had been running in the 6th District and jumped to the 14th, raised $154,000 and spent $310,000. She's got $490,000 in cash on hand, thanks in part to $700,000 in loans she gave herself last year. Rome physician John Cowan raised $521,000 with no loans and has $452,000 to spend. Car dealer Matt Laughridge raised $319,000, included a $250,000 loan to himself, and has $309,000 to spend. Others with $140,000 or more on hand include former state lawmaker Bill Hembree, prosecutor Clayton Fuller and former state school Superintendent John Barge.

In the 6th District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath raised more than $1 million and spent $450,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed this week covering the period from Jan. 1 to March 31. She has $2.6 million in cash on hand as she seeks to win a second term. Her top Republican challenger, Karen Handel, raised $282,000 and has $966,000 on hand. Handel held the seat briefly after a special election but lost to McBath in 2018 when seeking a full term.

In the Gwinnett County-centered 7th District, candidates collectively spent more than $1 million in the first quarter. Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux raised $326,000 and spend almost $130,000, leaving her with more than $1 million on hand. Bourdeaux narrowly lost the general election in 2018 to Republican Rob Woodall, who isn't seeking another term. She's opposed for the Democratic nomination by five other candidates including state Sen. Zahra Karinshak, who raised $135,000 and spent $68,000, leaving $504,000 on hand.

On the Republican side, seven candidates are trying to hold the seat for the GOP. Among top candidates are state Sen. Renee Unterman, who raised $75,000 and has $726,000 in the bank. Physician Rich McCormick has $542,000 to spend after raising $196,000. And former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich has $273,000 on hand after raising $46,000. 

Those three Republicans, Karinshak and others in the race have all loaned their campaigns substantial amounts of money.

In other districts, incumbents are generally far outraising and outspending challengers. For example, in coastal Georgia's 1st District, Republican incumbent Buddy Carter raised nearly $220,000 in the period and spent $126,000, leaving him with $1.8 million in the bank. Carter's Republican primary opponent, Daniel Merritt, has less than $7,000 in the bank. None of the three Democrats vying for their party's nomination have more than $23,000 on hand.

See original story from the Gainesville Times here.