Political Insider

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Handel beefs up war chest as challengers focus on runoff


For the last four months, we’ve heard very little from U.S. Rep. Karen Handel on the campaign front. 

The Roswell Republican stayed out of the fray as four challengers angled for the chance to take her on in the May Democratic primary. She’s done much of the same in the lead up to the July 24 runoff between Lucy McBath and Kevin Abel. 

But don’t mistake silence for idleness. 

Handel started fundraising for her reelection bid shortly after arriving in Washington last summer, and in the time since she’s built a formidable war chest that will be difficult for anyone to match in the months ahead. The freshman kicked off July with roughly $1 million in the bank, according to her latest campaign filing. 

Handel pulled in roughly $278,000 in May and June. Roughly half of that money came from individual donors. The political arms of Atlanta companies such as Home Depot, WestRock and Coca-Cola also donated to her reelection effort, which is common for sitting members of Congress. 

Handel’s campaign manager Mason Rainey said efforts are “on track.”

“While our potential opponents are arguing over who can best appeal to the new socialist base of the Democratic party, the Handel campaign is on track with fundraising and voter outreach,” Rainey said. “Most importantly, we have the best candidate with a record that is reflective of the needs and values of Georgia’s sixth district.”

Abel and McBath have tangled over their Democratic credentials and a gun control group’s involvement in the race in recent debate appearances. 

Abel’s campaign reported raising about $253,000 between May and July 4, the vast majority of the money coming from in-state donors. 

McBath raised roughly $207,000 in that same period. Her campaign had fundraising help from the left-leaning groups Act Blue and EMILY’s List, which helped her pull in a sizable chunk of donations from out-of-state. 

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Next door in the 7th District, Carolyn Bourdeaux pulled in $312,000 from May to the July 4 holiday. The Democrat’s campaign circulated a press release Friday crowing that she raised nearly 10 times as much as her runoff opponent David Kim. 

“As we continue to campaign across the district, our message is clearly resonating, and we will continue building the broad base of support it will take to win this seat,” said Bourdeaux. Like McBath, the Georgia State professor had fundraising help from EMILY’s List and Act Blue, a national platform that lets campaigns accept contributions online. 

Kim loaned his campaign another $441,000 during the same period, nearly doubling his personal contribution to his congressional bid. He reported raising only $34,000 in May and June. 

The winner of the Kim-Bourdeaux contest will take on incumbent Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, in the fall. 

Update: The Woodall campaign on Sunday reported raising $153,000 through July 30. 

Here are the latest fundraising numbers. Figures have been rounded:

6th District 

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel (May 3-June 30)

Total contributions: $278,000

Loans: $0

Cash on hand: $1 million

Kevin Abel (May 3-July 4)

Total contributions: $253,000

Loans: $0

Cash on hand: $130,000

Lucy McBath: 

Total contributions (May 3-July 4): $207,000

Loans: $0 

Cash on hand: $151,000

7th District

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (May 3-June 30)

Total contributions: $153,000

Loans: $0

Cash on hand: $529,000

Carolyn Bourdeaux (May 3-July 4)

Total contributions: $312,000

Loans: $0

Cash on hand: $98,000

David Kim (May 3-July 4)

Total contributions: $34,000 

Loans: $441,000

Cash on hand: $86,000

 


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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.