Big money matchup: Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp release 3rd quarter fundraising reports

The two are facing each other in America’s most watched governor’s race
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 9:04 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:39 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams’ campaign reported Friday it has raised more than $36 million over a three-month period, and has more than $11 million cash on hand.

On Wednesday, Gov. Brian Kemp’s re-election campaign reported having raised almost $29 million over the latest, third-quarter fundraising period.

The reports come as the nation’s most watched governor’s race is entering its final weeks. Abrams is seeking to unseat Kemp and become the nation’s first Black female governor, while Kemp - leading in most polls - is seeking his second, and final, term.

Kemp’s campaign said it will report about $15.4 million in cash on hand on Monday.

This year’s race is a rematch of their epic 2018 race, in which they both sought the governor’s mansion, as then-Gov. Nathan Deal was constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term. Kemp was then secretary of state, while Abrams had just finished up a term as a state House representative from intown Atlanta.

Full coverage of Georgia’s 2022 midterms

But this year’s rematch is much different from their 2018 encounter. Kemp now has a four-year record as governor of mostly popular conservative philosophies; oversees a strong state economy; and seems to have weathered a blistering attack from former President Donald Trump for not overturning the outcome of state’s 2020 presidential election.

“It’s hard to a GOP governor running for re-election under a better set of circumstances,” said Dr. Ben Taylor of Kennesaw State University. “You have a first-term Democratic president, meaning Republicans are motivated to vote; Kemp has suspended the gas tax from time to time, which is popular; the state has a big budget surplus; he’s taken positions on conservative issues that are endearing him to his base; and he’s getting a lot of positive press.”

Abrams, meanwhile, has been out of elected office for more than five years; is a strong supporter of President Joe Biden despite his dwindling national poll numbers; and has consistently trailed Kemp herself throughout the summer and into the early fall in most polls.

Four years ago, Kemp defeated Abrams by about 55,000 votes in an election Abrams has yet to concede.

“Abrams had great success four years ago by changing the makeup of the voting electorate,” said the University of Georgia’s Dr. Charles Bullock. “Most of the polls that show her trailing Kemp are of likely voters, but what about unlikely voters? These are folks that pollsters won’t pick up, and if Abrams can expand the electorate by bringing in more minorities and younger voters, that might be sufficient enough for her to win.”

Bullock said Georgia is evenly divided along partisan lines, with Republicans and Democrats each claiming about 45% of the electorate. That leaves major statewide elections like governor to be decided by about 10% of the remaining, more independent voters.