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Isakson holds strong lead in cash raised for Georgia Senate race

Democrat Jim Barksdale beefed up his fundraising effort in recent months as part of his bid to oust U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. But it may be too little, too late against a Republican incumbent with nearly $2.3 million in the bank heading into October.

New federal campaign finance reports seen by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this week showed Barksdale raised more than $323,000 between July and the end of September, more than three times better than he did earlier this summer. He kicked off October with more than $837,000 on hand.

But the Atlanta investment manager was trumped by Isakson’s third-quarter haul of more than $1.1 million.

The new filings showcase yet another metric by which the political neophyte significantly trails Isakson with less than three weeks until Election Day. Recent polling has estimated the Democrat lags behind the two-term incumbent by double digits.

The final weeks of a race is when candidates often blanket the airwaves with their final pitches to voters, so how much money they have in the bank is a notable metric. Atlanta’s media market is a particularly expensive place to advertise.

Barksdale in recent weeks has sought to remake his struggling campaign, replacing much of his senior staff with alums from Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential operation. The new aides have helped elevate the contest from a sleepy affair to an increasingly nasty one in recent weeks. Barksdale and Isakson unveiled dueling attack ads accusing one another of hypocrisy on trade issues, and the Democrat hammered Isakson on his continued support of Donald Trump after leaked audio showed the Republican nominee speaking about forcibly kissing and groping women.

A Barksdale spokesman said the campaign is “quickly building momentum” to win outright on Nov. 8.

“We’re pleased that an increasing number of Georgians are not only supporting us with endorsements, field efforts and getting out for early voting, but also by reaching into their pockets to fight against Senator Isakson’s campaign that’s underwritten by big-money special interests,” Greg Minchak said.

Isakson is looking to avoid a costly and time-consuming runoff that would occur if none of the candidates secure a majority of the vote on Nov. 8. With a third candidate in the race, Libertarian Allen Buckley, there’s a greater likelihood of that occurring, and Isakson’s campaign has embarked on a last-minute fundraising push in order to avoid that outcome.

“We are humbled by the tens of thousands of individuals who have actively invested in our campaign with their time and money,” Isakson’s campaign manager Trey Kilpatrick said in a statement about the latest numbers. “It is a testament to Johnny Isakson’s positive reputation and hard work.”

The new federal data showed that Barksdale continued to dip into his own deep pockets to finance his run this summer, loaning his campaign an additional $400,000. That’s no small number, but it represents a fraction of what the Democrat has given his campaign in the recent past. To date, Barksdale has pumped $3.5 million of his personal fortune into the campaign.

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