Fundraising pressure rises on Georgia’s Senate candidates | www.myajc.com

29
Dec

Fundraising pressure rises on Georgia’s Senate candidates | www.myajc.com

As the calendar turns to a blockbuster election year, Georgia’s U.S. Senate hopefuls are spending the final days of 2013 seeking enough campaign cash to make a statement about their viability, a task that becomes more difficult once easy funding sources are exhausted.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of campaign finance disclosures shows how the chief contenders have carved out different fundraising niches and underscores the challenge they confront in 2014 in a crowded race that’s expected to cost more than $10 million.

As the end-of-year financing deadline looms, the candidates face added pressure to show they are either tapping deeper into those bases or broadening their appeal to new supporters. The tallies take on added importance this year with the earliest primary in Georgia’s recorded history set for May 20.

Among Republicans, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel is mining her north Fulton home base, U.S. Rep. Paul Broun is cultivating conservatives across the country through direct-mail solicitation and U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey is hitting up fellow physicians.

U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston has been the most prolific so far by leaning on his neighbors in South Georgia, while former Fortune 500 executive David Perdue is relying partly on allies of his cousin, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, to prove his campaign’s mettle — as well as more than $1 million so far from his own personal wealth.

Democrat Michelle Nunn, meanwhile, has attracted backing from Washington Democrats, outside groups and her own networks in the nonprofit world, not to mention friends of her father, former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn.

The large field has assembled to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in a race that’s drawing national attention for its wide-open GOP primary and for the outside chance Democrats could break their statewide losing streak. Year-end fundraising tallies will be released at the end of January and, particularly in the GOP race, used as a measuring stick for the final push to the primary.

“Just as much as resources, the reports that come out, it’s about meeting or beating expectations,” said Chip Lake, a Republican consultant and former adviser to Gingrey. “Jack Kingston has proven to be a very strong fundraiser, and so one of the questions that everybody has is: Will that slow down for Jack or will he continue to show the same strength from donors that he’s shown the first three quarters of the year?”

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