Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams raised more than $2.7 million in the latest campaign filings, with roughly 60 percent of her itemized contributions coming from donors outside the state, according to a McClatchy analysis.
The new filings came this week as Abrams, a former Georgia State House minority leader who’s vying to become the nation’s first African-American woman governor, faces growing criticism from her Republican rivals over the amount of out-of-state money she’s receiving.
Abrams, who defeated former state Rep. Stacey Evans in the Democratic primary in May, has raised more than $6 million since entering the governor’s race and reported more than $1.5 million in cash on hand at the end of June.
Abrams said the number of out-of-state donors to her campaign reflects the national interest in the gubernatorial race and the importance of Georgia — home of the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta and the country’s fourth-busiest container port in Savannah.
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“I am running a locally-grounded campaign that has national support because we are all Americans, and Georgia is a critical state to the rest of the country,” Abrams said in an interview at her Atlanta campaign office Monday.
Abrams finished second in fundraising behind Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who’ll face Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a July 24 GOP runoff.
Cagle raised more than $3.7 million between April 1 and June 30 and had more than $1.3 million left in the bank at the end of the reporting period. About 91 percent of his donations came from Georgia individuals and organizations, according to McClatchy’s analysis.
Kemp took in $1.6 million in contributions in the three-month period and reported $700,000 cash on hand. About 97 percent of his itemized contributions came from within the state.
In going after Abrams over fundraising, Cagle and Kemp are borrowing a chapter from last year’s high-profile, high-priced U.S. House special election in suburban Atlanta in which Republican Karen Handel repeatedly hammered Democrat Jon Ossoff over the level of contributions that he received from outside the state.
The Georgia 6th Congressional District special election became the most expensive race in House history. Ossoff raised $29.5 million, and Handel, who won the election, collected $6.5 million, according to federal election data.
Nearly 90 percent of Ossoff’s itemized contributions came from out of state while just over half of the itemized contributions to Handel’s campaign came from within Georgia, according to a McClatchy analysis of Federal Election Commission data.
“My opponent has more donors and more dollars coming from outside of the state of Georgia — they are coming from Nancy Pelosi, California, New York, Massachusetts,” Handel said during a 2017 televised debate. “They don’t represent the values of this district.”
Kemp, in an interview in Athens, Sunday, said Abrams is raising “a lot of money from places like California and New York, which don’t represent the values we hold dear here in Georgia.”
Cagle warned attendees of a Gwinnett County Republican Party breakfast Saturday that “there’s going to be more resources coming into the state than we have ever seen before … and there are going to be more liberals flooding this state than we’ve ever seen.”
Several campaign finance experts said that whoever wins the GOP runoff will likely see an increase of campaign donations from outside of Georgia.
Still, attacking an opponent for taking out-of-town cash is a time-honored strategy, said Charles Bullock III, a University of Georgia political science professor.
“A few voters may remember it. It may be a factor,” Bullock said. “It’s kind of an old-fashioned view of what the South used to be. Most Georgians today don’t have family roots that go back that far.”