Democrats Ossoff, Warnock Raise Record Amounts for Georgia Senate Runoffs
(Bloomberg) -- Georgia Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock each took in more than $100 million in campaign contributions over the last two months, almost doubling the Senate fundraising record and far outpacing their Republican rivals, according to their latest filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Ossoff and Warnock both face high-stakes races against incumbent Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler. If Democrats manage to unseat their opponents in the Jan. 5 runoffs, the Senate will be divided 50-50 and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris can break any tie votes in favor of Democrats.
In the latest reporting period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 16, Ossoff raised $106.8 million while Warnock took in $103.4 million. Both shattered the previous fundraising record of $57.9 million for a Senate candidate set by Democrat Jaime Harrison in the third quarter of 2020 in his unsuccessful bid to unseat South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Perdue, who’s facing off against Ossoff, raised $68.1 million and ended with $16 milion cash on hand. Loeffler, who’s opposing Warnock, filed her report on Wednesday. She raised $64 million and had $21.3 million in the bank heading into the last weeks of the campaign. Combined, the Democrats outraised the Republican incumbents by $78.1 million.
The two Georgia contests have drawn national interest, with some donors writing seven-figure checks to super-PACs and online donors pumping money into the candidates’ coffers.
The candidate filings include money raised for the general election as well as the runoffs.
Ossoff spent $93.5 million, and had $17.5 million cash on hand heading into the final stretch. He’s the biggest media spender in his race against Perdue, booking television, radio and digital ads totaling $47.5 million since the Nov. 3 election through Dec. 16, according to data from AdImpact.
Warnock had $22.8 million cash on hand after spending $86.1 million. He’s booked $41.2 million in media time since the election through Dec. 16, compared with $27.5 million for Loeffler.
Grassroots donors, those contributing less than $200, gave Ossoff $49.6 million. It’s not the first time small-dollar donors poured donations into his coffers. In 2017, he raised $19.1 million from them and $30 million overall while unsuccessfully running in a special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district. Though Ossoff lost, the contest was the first demonstration of Democratic donor enthusiasm during President Donald Trump’s presidency.
Warnock raised $50.5 million from grassroots donors.
In the general election, Perdue led Ossoff 49.7% to 48%. The Loeffler-Warnock race was a special “jungle primary” to fill the seat vacated by Johnny Isakson. Warnock led 32.9% to Loeffler’s 25.9%. Republican Doug Collins came in third with 20%.
President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by 12,670 votes, giving Democrats some confidence that they can take at least one Senate seat for the first time since 2005. Both Trump and Biden have campaigned in the state.
Some super-PACs active in the runoffs also filed reports covering their activity between Nov. 24 and Dec. 16. The Lincoln Project, founded by former Republican operatives who opposed Trump and now back Democrats, raised $4.8 million, spent $7.5 million and had $5.4 million cash on hand.
On the Republican side, ESAFund raised $5.1 million. Marlene Ricketts, wife of billionaire Joe Ricketts, gave $1.9 million, while Citadel founder Kenneth Griffin, hedge fund manager Paul Singer and Charles Schwab, founder of Charles Schwab Corp., each gave $1 million. The super-PAC spent $1.4 million, including a $250,000 donation to Gun Owners Action Fund, and had $3.7 million cash on hand. Georgia United Victory, which backs Loeffler, raised $2.8 million, spent $3.4 million and had $411,236 in the bank.
Some smaller super-PACs had big-name donors. Keep America America Action Fund got $600,000 from Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, a little less than two-thirds of the $902,170 it raised between Nov. 24 and Dec. 16. Singer and Schwab each gave $250,000 to America Patriots PAC. Both groups backed the Republicans.
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