Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams

Gov. Brian Kemp (left) and Stacey Abrams have raised unprecedented money for their respective campaigns for the 2022 governor's race in Georgia.

Credit: Capitol Beat

Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams have shattered the previous record for gubernatorial campaign fundraising in Georgia heading into Election Day next week.

The Kemp campaign and Georgians First, the governor’s leadership committee, had combined to raise $81.5 million through Oct. 25, according to the final campaign finance reports they will file with the state ahead of the Nov. 8 election.

Abrams, as she has throughout the campaign, outraised the incumbent. Her campaign and leadership committee, One Georgia, had brought in a combined $105.3 million through Oct. 25, according to reports submitted to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission.

The total for the two candidates and leadership committees — $186.8 million — is nearly four times what Kemp and Abrams raised during their first matchup in 2018.

The huge increase in campaign dollars has a lot to do with the creation of leadership committees by the General Assembly last year.

Unlike the candidates’ own campaign committees, leadership committees can raise and spend unlimited contributions on behalf of top statewide and legislative candidates.

Recipients also can accept leadership committee donations at any time of the year, including while the legislature is in session, something candidates currently holding a state elective office are not allowed to do.

Majority Republicans passed the legislation virtually along party lines, with Democrats warning that allowing unlimited campaign contributions would increase the influence of special interests in Georgia politics.

However, as Abrams’ One Georgia committee has demonstrated, Democrats are more than able to benefit from new rules they had no hand in creating.

Among other major candidates for statewide office, state Sen. Burt Jones, R-Jackson, raised $12.9 million through Oct. 25 in his bid for lieutenant governor, far ahead of the $2.5 million raised by Democratic opponent Charlie Bailey.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr built a smaller fundraising lead over state Sen. Jen Jordan of Atlanta, his Democratic challenger. Carr’s campaign raised $4.8 million through Oct. 25, compared to Jordan’s $3.5 million.

In the race for secretary of state, Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen of Atlanta outraised incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger, $3.6 million to $3 million.

This story comes to GPB through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.