Posted: 8:22 am Wednesday, January 8th, 2014
By Greg Bluestein
Gov. Nathan Deal had about $1.1 million in his campaign bank account six months ago. Figures released this morning show he’s roughly quadrupled that.
Deal’s campaign raised almost $4 million in the last six months, and has about $4.1 million on hand as he gears up for a primary against two GOP foes and a potential November showdown with Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter.
He’s raised 94 percent of that sum from Georgia residents in at least 122 of the state’s 159 counties. He’s hit the fundraising circuit hard as Carter and the two Republicans — Dalton Mayor David Pennington and state School Superintendent John Barge — launched GOP primary challenges.
Deal, like Carter, will be barred from raising funds during the legislative session that starts Monday. Both are trying to add to their accounts in the frenzied days before the session’s start.
Carter will also have formidable resources. He raised $1.3 million in the seven weeks since he announced his candidacy in November, and he’ll have allies in Washington and Atlanta ready to add more. Pennington and Barge, by contrast, trail far behind both.
None of this is terribly surprising. Carter, the grandson of the former president, has said he likely won’t be able to match Deal’s fundraising ability dollar-for-dollar but that he’ll raise enough money to stay competitive.
And Deal wields the power of incumbency and can tap a network of donors who gave him more than $8 million in 2010. With this kind of financial heft, the campaign now faces the happy question of how soon to start blanketing the airwaves. We spotted one 30-second spot last night.
Democratic Party chair DuBose Porter’s decision to tap strategist Rebecca DeHart as the organization’s executive director has rubbed a few within the party the wrong way.
State Sen. Vincent Fort, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said he considered DeHart a friend but was upset at what he called the “good ol’ boy approach” that led to her promotion. She was picked by Porter this week and confirmed by the party’s executive committee in a conference call last night.
“In 2013 the Democratic Party ought to reflect the rich diversity of Georgia Democrats. When you have a chairman who is white and an executive director who is white, that rich diversity is not reflected,” Fort said after the vote.
He said some board members and legislative leaders weren’t consulted or briefed on the decision, which he said reflected “a lack of diversity and a lack of transparency.”
Sensing he would take a lot of heat from his fellow Democrats, he pointed out the recent pushback by Georgia Democrats against the lack of diversity among President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. “We’re all supportive of the president,” said Fort. “But if we can challenge his federal judiciary nominees, the Georgia Democratic Party shouldn’t be above the same scrutiny.”
A new front on an old topic is opening up, courtesy of state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. From Channel 2 Action News:
The problem is that an eight (or more) candidate debate will hardly be compelling watching, because it reduces the number of rounds and questions that can be asked, and by the time the last candidates answers, the audience will likely have forgotten the original question. On the other hand, it can be hard to say today who will be viable in May, and the State Party should’t be playing favorites.
I suggest we adopt the “Survivor” model, where each candidate is voted on by GAGOP members after the debate, and the lowest vote-getter is eliminated from the next debate. At 50 cents per call if we use the phone number voting method, it’d also be a great way to transfer money from the candidates’ backers to the state GOP.
Her campaign gives no indication of the size of the buy behind it, but Karen Handel is boasting of a new radio spot that awards credit to U.S. Senate rivals Paul Broun, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey for a doubling of the national debt since 2006. Click here to listen.
Our colleague Jaime Sarrio noticed an interesting tidbit while combing through financial disclosures.
Republican Nancy Jester attracted some notable support in her superintendent’s bid — her former colleagues. The Dunwoody Republican received donations from Pam Speaks, who was kicked off the school board along with Jester in 2013, and Don McChesney, who was ousted from the school board by voters in 2012.
Speaks donated $250 to the Jester campaign, while McChesney, a retired history teacher, gave $1,000. Jester netted about $10,000 cash during this reporting period.
Jester was one of six school board members Deal suspended in February after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on probation.
While several board members challenged the decision and lost, Jester stepped down and set her sights on becoming one of at least four Republicans running to succeed Barge. State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, is also in the race.
Pay no attention to that public safety director who just quit, says Cobb County and Atlanta Braves officials. From the Marietta Daily Journal:
Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz and County Chairman Tim Lee say they will be ready to handle the security needs of the new $672 million Major League Baseball stadium when it opens in 2017.
In a scathing resignation letter to County Manager David Hankerson on Monday, Jack Forsythe, the county’s public safety director, said his department lacks the resources needed to keep Cobb residents safe now, let alone when the new stadium and accompanying $400 million mixed-use development opens in 2017 down the road from the Cumberland Mall.
About the Author
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He joined the newspaper in June 2012 after spending seven years with the Atlanta bureau of The Associated Press. He also contributes to the AJC's Political Insider blog. Bluestein has traveled to Haiti with President Jimmy Carter, journeyed to Panama with Gov. Nathan Deal and tracked down a suspected Ponzi schemer in suburban Kansas. He spent weeks in Louisiana covering the Gulf Oil Spill, became an unwitting expert on capital punishment after witnessing almost a dozen executions in Georgia's death chamber and was part of award-winning teams that descended upon the biggest breaking news events in the Southeast. Bluestein has covered a range of beats, including environment, legal affairs and economic development. He's now the AJC's political writer, charged with covering the intricacies of Georgia's lively government on the newspaper's front pages and in the Political Insider blog. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two daughters.