Georgia’s Perdue raises $2.3 million in challenge but follows Kemp

ATLANTA (AP) — Republican David Perdue’s fundraising for his gubernatorial bid improved this spring, but even though he loaned himself $500,000, the challenger still couldn’t keep up with the pace of incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

Including the loan, Perdue raised $2.3 million in the three months ended April 30, the former U.S. senator’s campaign reported Monday. That’s behind the $2.7 million Kemp raised in just 26 days after the April 4 end of the Georgia legislative session. Georgian lawmakers are barred from fundraising while lawmakers meet.

Perdue had about $900,000 in cash on April 30, less than a month before the May 24 primary, while Kemp had $10.7 million. Kemp has been fundraising much longer than Perdue, having banked more than $22 million for his re-election bid so far, compared to the $3.5 million Perdue has raised.

The winner will face Democrat Stacey Abrams, which has already raised more than 20 million dollars and had $8 million in cash on April 30. The other candidates in November will be libertarian Shane Hazel and independent Al Bartell.

Perdue’s campaign noted that 95% of contributors gave less than $200.

“David Perdue is proud to have an army of grassroots supporters fueling our campaign,” spokeswoman Jenni Sweat said in a statement. Perdue has made endorsing former President Donald Trump and Trump’s lies about the 2020 election the centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that Kemp can never win over the die-hard Trump voters that will be needed to defeat Abrams.

Kemp has been significantly ahead of Perdue in recent polls, making it increasingly likely that Kemp will beat Perdue without a runoff in June, which would be needed if no one gets a majority. Kandiss Taylor, Catherine Davis and Tom Williams are also candidates for the Republican primary. Kemp spent $5 million during the three-month period, more than double Perdue’s spending of $2.3 million.

“It’s abundantly clear that Republicans in Georgia are uniting around Governor Kemp,” spokesman Cody Hall said, saying Kemp’s record makes him the best choice to beat Abrams.

lost struggled to tap into the same network of major donors that supported his two Senate races, despite his endorsement by Trump. But some more traditional donors lined up behind him in the most recent report, including liquor distributor Donald Leebern Jr. and his wife, who donated $24,200. The Leeberns have been prolific donors in Georgia and Alabama for decades. Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott donated $7,600.

Perdue had said he would draw on his own fortune of $50 million to fund his bid, but didn’t open his wallet very wide, only lending himself $500,000.

The report includes receipts from a fundraiser Trump hosted for Perdue at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where contributors had to donate $3,000 to attend. A photo with Trump meant contributing $24,200, the maximum individual contribution for Georgia in this election cycle, including a primary, general election and two possible ballots.

Fundraising in Georgia also saw a dispute over Kemp’s use of a steering committee, a special state fundraising vehicle that allowed the governor to collect unlimited contributions and coordinate spending with his campaign. Perdue and Abrams sued the committee, saying it was unfair that Kemp could take large amounts while Perdue and Abrams were banned until they won their party’s primaries.

After an earlier decision that Kemp couldn’t spend committee money on PerdueU.S. District Judge Mark Cohen ruled last week that the first Kemp Georgians leadership committee cannot solicit or receive contributions until after the primary election and any eventual runoff that makes him the Republican candidate for governor.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.

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