Republicans have run Georgia for more than a decade, but the Democrats in Tuesday’s runoff far outraised their opponents in the four-week campaign.
Democrat John Barrow and Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger face off in the secretary of state’s runoff, while Republican Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, in his bid for re-election, faces Democrat Lindy Miller.
In both races, Barrow and Miller raised about twice as much money as their Republican opponents in the period since the Nov. 6 general election. That was, in part, because Raffensperger and Eaton were prohibited by law from raising money during the recently completed special session of the General Assembly, which lasted five days.
Also, Eaton didn’t need to raise as much money because a Washington-based nuclear power group pumped about $1 million into an independent committee that paid for ads and mailings on his behalf. Eaton is a big backer of the Plant Vogtle nuclear power construction project.
Under Georgia law, there are general-election runoffs when no candidate gets a majority of votes.
Fundraising success doesn’t necessarily mean victory at the polls. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle outraised everyone in his bid to win the Republican gubernatorial nomination, but he lost the primary runoff badly to Brian Kemp. Democrat Stacey Abrams set fundraising records in her bid to win the governor’s office, but Kemp, whose team also collected prodigious amounts of money, won the general election.
Barrow raised just over $1 million for the runoff over the past few weeks, about one-third of which came from outside Georgia. As in the case of the party’s gubernatorial nominee, Abrams, Barrow received a large number of contributions from California, including two from a San Francisco couple — Steve Phillips and Susan Sandler — who bankrolled an independent committee that spent millions backing Abrams.
Barrow, a former Georgia congressman, also received strong backing from current and past Democratic politicians, including former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn ($1,000), ex-Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor ($2,000) and former Gov. Roy Barnes ($3,900). The maximum legal contribution for a single runoff donor is $3,900.
Raffensperger raised about $500,000 for the runoff in the past three weeks and put an additional $50,000 of his own money into the contest. His campaign reported about $1 million in debt, most of it from personal loans he made to his campaign.
He also received big backing from state lawmakers, with about three-dozen Republican legislators donating a combined $70,000 to his campaign in recent weeks.
Miller collected about $400,000 for the runoff in recent weeks, while Eaton took in $184,000, about one-third from officials with utilities or firms that lobby for utilities. The PSC regulates utilities in Georgia.