WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is closing in on former Vice President Joe Biden in the dash for Georgia’s campaign cash.
Both are among the nine candidates who have qualified to appear at the party’s Nov. 20 debate in Atlanta.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, raked in more cash from Georgians than any other Democratic presidential candidate in the third quarter of the year, recently released campaign finance data show. From July to September, he took in about $187,000 from Georgia donors, while Biden raised about $151,000.
The numbers, released in October by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), include itemized contributions — all of those that exceed $200, and some smaller donations.
Biden holds a modest fundraising lead in the state overall, pulling in nearly $480,000 in contributions from Georgians this year to Buttigieg’s $462,000. And he continues to dominate in recent state and national polls, while Buttigieg polls in the single digits in Georgia and nationally.
But Buttigieg’s third-quarter surge — and Biden’s recent stumbles on the campaign trail — suggest the Midwestern mayor may be competitive in the Peach State primary next year.
Even so, Georgia will likely have little say in who wins the party’s nomination. That’s because its March 24 primary falls relatively late in the season, after critical early-state contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Super Tuesday on March 3, which allocates about 40 percent of delegates.
Once regarded as the party’s frontrunner, Biden has stumbled in recent months thanks to lackluster performances in presidential debates, controversy over his son’s business activities in Ukraine and sluggish fundraising at the national level.
But the former senator from Delaware enjoys the backing of numerous state officials. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and two dozen other influential black legislators have endorsed Biden, while Buttigieg has yet to receive a high-profile endorsement in the state.
On the heels of Buttigieg and Biden is California Sen. Kamala Harris, who raised about $410,000 from Georgians this year. But she saw a drop in the third quarter, raising only $91,000 from July through September after pulling in some $318,000 in the first half of the year.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also saw a precipitous decline, earning only $26,000 from Georgia donors in the third quarter after raising more than $136,000 from February to June.
Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, meanwhile, posted gains in the third quarter, earning more than they did in the first half of the year.
But President Donald Trump trounced them all, pulling in nearly $700,000 from the state in the last three months alone. He has taken in $2.4 million from Georgians since 2016, about half of the nearly $4.8 million Georgians have given to presidential candidates in the 2020 cycle.
Trump won Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in 2016, and national political observers give him an edge in the state in the general election. He is heading to Atlanta this month to help fend off Democratic efforts to turn the red state blue.
Campaign cash flooding into state
Campaign cash is also flooding into the state’s congressional races.
GOP Sen. David Perdue has raised more than $9 million in his race for a second term, putting him among the top 10 Senate fundraisers in the country. Perdue’s haul dwarfs that of his would-be challengers, which include Democrats Jon Ossoff, Teresa Tomlinson, Sarah Riggs Amico, Ted Terry and others. Ossoff had raised $1.3 million by the end of September, Tomlinson had raised $933,000, Riggs Amico had raised $761,000 and Terry raised $88,000.
Perdue won’t be the only Peach State senator on the ballot next year. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp will appoint a successor to GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at the end of the year. The newly appointed senator will likely face an election next fall to fill the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.
Matt Lieberman, the son of former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, was the first Democratic candidate to jump into the race for Isakson’s seat, but the race has not yet heated up.
In the House, freshman Democrat Lucy McBath has raised an eye-popping $1.8 million — putting her among the top 30 House candidates running in 2020 and suggesting the hotly contested seat in the Atlanta suburbs could once again be among the most expensive House races in the country.
McBath — who has the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — has $1.3 million in the bank, more than double the amount raised by her closest GOP rival, ex-Rep. Karen Handel, who narrowly lost to McBath last year. Handel has $631,000 in the bank, more than other Republicans seeking the GOP nod, who include Marjorie Greene, Brandon Beach and Nicole Rodden.
Some $4.4 million has poured into the open 7th District, where numerous candidates are vying for their party’s nomination. Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux leads the pack (raising about $940,000), but Republican Renee Unterman has the most in the bank (some $771,000).
Some incumbents, meanwhile, are stockpiling cash even though their races aren’t expected to be competitive. Democrat Rep. John Lewis (5th District) has $2.7 million in the bank, and GOP Reps. Tom Graves (14th District), Buddy Carter (1st District) and Doug Collins (9th District) have between $1.4 and $2.2 million on hand.
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