Politics & Government

Tomlinson raises more than $500K in U.S. Senate bid as Democrat contenders eye race

Former Columbus mayor and current U.S. Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson has brought in more than half a million dollars in a three-month window in her bid to unseat Sen. David Perdue in 2020.

She raised $520,000 in donations from more than 3,500 people in all 50 states, but three-quarters of the funds (about $380,000) came from Georgia. Most of the donors live in the Atlanta and Columbus areas. Tomlinson also loaned herself $30,000, according to financial information provided to the Ledger-Enquirer by Tomlinson’s campaign.

Tomlinson’s reported haul puts her behind Democratic candidates in other competitive Senate races across the nation. She’s raised those funds while other major Georgia names mulled over the possibility of joining the race. Perdue, the incumbent, has also amassed a sizable reelection fund.

Tomlinson is set to end the quarter with about $350,000 in the bank. Those donations show how important the state’s 2020 U.S. Senate race is, according to her campaign.

“GA is a battleground state, and the investment from folks across all 50 states shows that people believe the road to a Democratic Senate Majority runs through GA,” said Nicole Henderson, Tomlinson’s Director of Communications, in a statement. “From Bonaire to College Park, Georgians believe in Mayor Tomlinson’s leadership and this campaign’s ability to send a Democrat from Georgia to the U.S. Senate.”

By comparison, Perdue raised nearly $1.9 million in the same time span. That figure does not include roughly $520,000 given to a pro-Perdue political action committee. The incumbent has about $4.9 million on hand for the race, his campaign reports.

The Georgia U.S. Senate race, according to the Cook Political report, is listed as likely Republican — meaning it’s not considered competitive at this point but there is some potential. The Washington Post reported that Perdue’s seat was one of the 10 most likely to flip in 2020.

“Senator Perdue continues to demonstrate he is an outsider with a proven record of results that will be hard to beat,” said Derrick Dickey, Perdue’s senior advisor, in a statement. “Still, Georgia is a top target for Democrats, and they have shown they will do whatever it takes to defeat Senator Perdue and President Trump in 2020.”

Still, Tomlinson’s haul is well below figures reported by other Democratic Senate candidates in competitive races.

Seven candidates announced seven-figure fundraising results in the second quarter for 2020 races. Mark Kelly, the former astronaut challenging Republican Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona, raised $4.2 million in the second quarter. Kelly’s figures outpace first-quarter revenues of five presidential candidates, reports the Center for Responsive Politics.

In South Carolina, Jaime Harrison raised about $1.3 million in the second quarter in his attempt to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Hill reports. That race, according to the Cook Political report, is less competitive than the Georgia race.

Tomlinson raised that money at a time when she was the only major Democrat to declare for the Senate race. Now, that’s not the case.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced Wednesday that he’ll enter the race. Terry, 36, is known to supporters at the “millennial mayor” and is best known outside of the state for his appearance on Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”

“Campaigns are ways we can move the needle on policies,” he told The AJC. “And I’m going to set the marker on what being a progressive in Georgia stands for. I won’t be surprised if the others follow suit.”

Other high profile names like former lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico and former 6th Congressional District candidate Jon Ossoff are considering runs, the AJC reports.

In addition to Tomlinson and Terry, two other Democrats have filed for the election. They are:

Akhenaten Amun, teacher and former lieutenant governor candidate in 2018

Marckeith DeJesus, former candidate for Georgia state Senate and House

Independent Clifton Kilby III has also filed paperwork for the race. Financial reports are due July 15.

Elaine Williams, a minister who ran for president in 2016 and was planning a 2020 Senate bid, filed a termination report with the Federal Elections Commission meaning that she is no longer receiving contributions or making expenditures.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, in a statement earlier this week, called Tomlinson a “struggling candidate.”

“Ted Terry is the latest addition to what will be a large field of left-wing Democrat Senate candidates, including struggling candidate Teresa Tomlinson, and potentially failed lieutenant governor candidate Sarah Riggs Amico and failed congressional candidate Jon Ossoff,” the statement reads. “Chuck Schumer’s top pick, failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, passed on running despite ‘relentless’ wooing from Democrat leaders. “

Tomlinson announced that she intended to run for Senate in April if Stacey Abrams didn’t. She served as mayor of Columbus from 2011 to 2019.

Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.