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Saturday October 24th, 2020 4:36AM

Democrats raise big money in pursuit of Georgia Republicans

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic candidates in Georgia's top races walloped their Republican counterparts in fundraising for the period covering July, August and September.

Some of the biggest discrepancies, shown in the most recent campaign finance reports filed by the candidates, came in Georgia’s dual U.S. Senate contests — races that could help determine control of the Senate.

Democrat Jon Ossoff raised $21.3 million during the period in his quest to unseat Republican Sen. David Perdue, a close ally of President Donald Trump. Ossoff’s campaign said it received over 600,000 contributions and that the average contribution was $35. He finished the quarter with $8.3 million in cash reserves.

Perdue, who is seeking a second term, raised about $5.6 million during the period. But he ended it with nearly the same amount of cash on hand as Ossoff: about $8.2 million. Polls show a neck-and-neck race between Perdue and Ossoff entering the final stretch before Election Day on Nov. 3.

In Georgia’s other Senate race, Democrat Raphael Warnock brought in $12.9 million during the three-month period, more than quadrupling the total he raised the previous quarter. Warnock, the top Democrat in a multi-candidate race for the seat Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to less than a year ago, ended the quarter with $6.5 million in cash reserves.

Loeffler, who has spent much of the campaign locked in a battle with Republican Rep. Doug Collins for voters from the right-wing of the GOP, raised about $2.2 million during the period and personally loaned her campaign another $5 million. She has previously loaned her campaign $15 million of her own vast personal wealth, bringing the total self-loan to $20 million. Loeffler finished the quarter with about $5.6 million in cash on hand.

Collins raised about $2.3 million and finished the quarter with about $2.4 million in reserves. With 20 candidates challenging Loeffler, the race will likely be decided by a Jan. 5 runoff, required between the top two candidates if no one breaks 50% on Nov. 3.

The strong showing among Democrats in Georgia coincides with a period in which Democrats challenging incumbent Republican senators nationwide posted big numbers. In South Carolina, Democrat Jaime Harrison broke congressional fundraising records by bringing in $57 million for the quarter in his race against Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

With cash flowing in, Senate races in Georgia have triggered an advertising blitz. More than $155 million has been committed to ads in both of Georgia’s Senate races combined, including past spending and future reservations from candidates and outside groups.

Democrats also had a fundraising edge in a pair of hotly contested U.S. House races in the suburbs north of Atlanta.

In Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, a rematch of 2018 between Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath and Republican Karen Handel, McBath raised $2.2 million for the quarter and is left with $1.9 million in cash. Handel, who previously held the seat before losing to McBath by about 3,200 votes two years ago, raised approximately $826,000 for the quarter and is left with about $1 million in cash reserves.

In the neighboring 7th District, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux faces Republican Rich McCormick for the open seat. Bourdeaux, who lost to Republican Rep. Rob Woodall by less than 500 votes in 2018 before Woodall announced his retirement from the House, raised about $2.1 million during the period. She finished the quarter with about $911,000 in cash reserves. McCormick raised about $1.1 million during the period and finished the quarter with $689,000 in cash reserves.

Outside groups have also been spending heavily on the races.

To date, the conservative Super PAC Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $32.1 million against Ossoff, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The liberal Senate Majority Super PAC has spent about $16.7 million against Perdue.

In Georgia's other Senate race, the conservative Super PAC Georgia United Victory has spent more than $10.5 million opposing Collins. Recent disclosures show that Loeffler's husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, has contributed about $5.5 million to the group since August.

In the 6th District race, the National Republican Congressional Committee PAC has spent about $1.8 million opposing McBath, while the liberal Super PAC Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund has spent nearly $1.5 million opposing Handel, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 7th District, the conservative Super PAC Club for Growth Action has spent nearly $1.5 million opposing Bourdeaux and another $930,000 boosting McCormick, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee PAC has spent just under $2.8 million opposing McCormick.

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