EXCLUSIVE: With just over three weeks to go until primary day in Georgia, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has replenished his formidable campaign war chest.
Kemp – the first-term conservative governor who’s facing a primary challenge from former GOP Sen. David Perdue, who enjoys the backing of former President Donald Trump – hauled in over $2.7 million in April for his re-election campaign. And the governor will report $10.7 million cash on hand in his campaign coffers.
The fundraising figures, which were shared first nationally with Fox News Digital on Monday, cover the period starting on April 5, following the end of Georgia’s legislative session, through the end of the month. Georgia’s governors, other elected statewide officials, and state lawmakers have been barred for decades from taking contributions for their personal campaign committees during the legislative session.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp at a campaign event in Athens, Georgia, on June 18, 2021.
(Brian Kemp Campaign)
Kemp hauled in $7.4 million from July 1, 2021, through January 10 of this year – with $12.7 million cash on hand – when the 2022 legislative session got underway. And he enjoyed a massive fundraising advantage over Perdue, who raised $1.1 million from his early December campaign launch through the end of January, with roughly $1 million in his coffers. Perdue’s yet to file his latest fundraising report.
“Our campaign has kept our feet on the gas in the month of April, following the Governor’s bold leadership during the most conservative legislative session ever,” Kemp campaign manager Bobby Saparow touted.
And Saparow predicted that “the momentum is with our campaign, and we will continue to outwork our competition to secure wins in May and November.”
Kemp also enjoys a large lead over Perdue in another crucial metric – public opinion polling. The governor holds a whopping 25-point lead over Perdue in an average of the three most recent surveys.
Four years ago, with the support of Trump, Kemp narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams to win the governorship. But Kemp earned Trump’s ire starting in late 2020, after the governor certified President Biden’s narrow victory in Georgia in the presidential election following multiple recounts of the vote. Trump, who had unsuccessfully urged the governor and other top Republican officials in the state to overturn the results, has now returned to Georgia twice to campaign against Kemp.
Former President Donald Trump shakes hands with former Sen. David Perdue, who’s primary challenging GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, at the former president’s rally in Cumming, Georgia, on March 26, 2022.
(David Perdue campaign)
Trump for months urged Perdue to challenge the governor, and late last year he endorsed Perdue a day after the former senator launched his bid. Perdue declared his candidacy a few days after Abrams, a voting rights champion and rising star in the Democratic Party, launched her second straight bid for governor.
Abrams, a fundraising giant, hauled in $9.25 million from her Dec. 1 campaign launch through the end of January. Abrams, who faces no competition for the Democratic nomination, has yet to file her latest fundraising report.
Stacey Abrams, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, during a campaign event in Atlanta on March 14, 2022.
(Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Fundraising is a key barometer of a candidate’s popularity, support, and strength. And candidates can use campaign cash to build grassroots outreach, hire staffers, travel, and produce and run ads.
Besides Perdue, Kemp is also facing primary challenges from three lesser-known candidates – Catherine Davis, Kandiss Taylor, and Tom Williams. After Kemp and Perdue faced off in two debates the past week, all five candidates shared the stage at a debate on Sunday, the final one ahead of the May 24 primary.
Early voting in the primary kicked off on Monday, and will last through May 20.
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.