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Tamar Hallerman

Party-backed Democrat Senate candidate posts dismal fundraising numbers

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WASHINGTON – The Democratic Party’s hand-picked candidate to challenge U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson barely raised enough cash to buy a new sedan in the first federal campaign finance report he’s filed since he’s entered the race. But investment banker Jim Barksdale also loaned himself $1.1 million, a sign that he’s willing to dip deeper into his wallet to finance his campaign for Senate.

Jim Barksdale

Jim Barksdale

Isakson, meanwhile, showed his fundraising muscle in the quarter that ended March 31. His campaign reported more than $907,000 in contributions, including in-kind and interest, and $5.9 million cash on hand.

The filings show the uphill battle Barksdale faces against Isakson both in terms of name recognition and finances, despite the fact he is a wealthy self-funder.

His campaign reported $1.1 million in the bank at the beginning of April. Only about $17,000 of that came from contributions – from himself, a handful of individual donors and the political action committee ActBlue, which focuses on electing progressive candidates. The rest came from his personal loan.

Barksdale’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A political newcomer, Barksdale has shirked the media and struggled to make much of a splash in the weeks since he qualified. He faces a trio of little-known opponents in next month’s Democratic primary. (Their financial disclosures have yet to be made public.)

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson at an election night party in Atlanta for David Perdue last November. Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.  Hyosub Shin, hshin@ajc.com

The full details of Isakson’s campaign filings have also yet to be published by the U.S. Senate or Federal Election Commission (ditto for his primary challengers). But a summary provided by his campaign shows that roughly two-thirds of the contributions made to him in the first quarter came from individual donors as opposed to the political action committees, or PACs, of corporations, unions or professional groups.

Georgians “have seen me leading the fight for their interests – whether it’s leading the charge for better healthcare for our veterans, demanding the safety of the United States against radical Islamic jihad, pushing for fundamental tax reform, or ensuring our Georgia ports receive strong federal support to continue growing and creating jobs – Georgians know they know they can count on me to work hard on their behalf,” Isakson said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Libertarian Allen Buckley reported his campaign brought in more than $5,000 in contributions through March 31. He had just shy of $3,000 in the bank going into April.