Georgia’s Warnock outraises Walker as giving to Kemp jumps

ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is maintaining his cash lead in Georgia over Republican challenger Herschel Walker, while incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp’s fundraising sharply accelerated over the summer in his race with Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.

Walker said Wednesday that his campaign raised more than $12 million in the three months ending Sept. 30, giving him almost $33 million since he began his campaign. Walker’s campaign said that’s the most of any Republican candidate this cycle.

Walker spent almost $11 million during the third quarter, leaving him with about $7 million on hand.

Despite Walker’s strongest fundraising quarter to date, he lags far behind Warnock, who has become one of the Senate’s most prolific fundraisers. Republican strategists in Washington, however, said planned spending by party committees and GOP-aligned PACs will keep Republicans’ overall Senate advertising in Georgia on par with Warnock and the Democrats ahead of Election Day on Nov. 8.

Warnock reported raising $26.3 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. He’s now raised about $90 million since winning one of two 2021 runoffs, along with Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, that gave their party control of the Senate.

Warnock reported $13.7 million in cash on hand. He’s been spending heavily, laying out nearly $35 million in the three-month period. Warnock is one of several Democratic Senate incumbents in swing states who is trying to cling to their seat amid President Joe Biden’s unpopularity.

Warnock, also pastor of the church once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said he collected from more than 340,000 individual donors in the period.

“Tens of thousands of grassroots donors are helping to propel our campaign across the finish line in November because they see the clear choice they have between Reverend Warnock and Herschel Walker,” Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks said in a statement.

Walker said he received money from “tens of thousands” of donors. His campaign has said his fundraising has remained strong this week even after an explosive report that he once paid for a woman’s abortion despite taking a strict anti-abortion stance in his campaign. The report led Walker’s son to condemn him publicly. Walker has denied the report while but also argues that he’s been redeemed for past misdeeds.

“The people are so fired up for a new warrior in Washington that they have literally put their money where their mouths are,” Walker said in a statement. “We’re so grateful for your support, and can’t wait to return this seat to you, the people.”

The 2022 races in closely divided Georgia show how pricey it’s gotten to compete in what has quickly become the South’s premier battleground state. Hundreds of millions in political spending is pouring out from candidates, political parties and outside groups in the governor’s race and the U.S. Senate race.

While outside spending talking about Warnock is roughly balanced, with $6.9 million for and $6.6 million against the incumbent, according to Federal Election Commission records, outside spending focused on Walker has been much more negative, with $14.3 million against and only $2.6 million for the challenger.

Warnock became Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator after winning a special election in 2020 to fill the unexpired term of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who stepped down because of failing health. Isakson died in December.

Kemp on Wednesday announced that he’d taken in $28.7 million for his campaign and an associated leadership committee that can accept unlimited donations over three months.

The Republican is trying to keep pace with the amounts of cash that Democrat Stacey Abrams has been hauling in. It’s a much stronger performance than the $6.8 million Kemp collected in the two months ended June 30, pushing his total raised to nearly $60 million. It’s also more than the $22.4 million he raised in his entire run against Abrams in 2018.

Kemp said his campaign and his Georgians First committee had $15.4 million in cash left for the five-week sprint to the Nov. 8 election, after spending nearly $20 million from July through September.

Abrams must report her totals later this week. She raised $21.8 million during the two months ending June 30, having collected $49 million by that point.

___

Associated Press reporter Bill Barrow contributed.

___

Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.