By Greg Bluestein, Jim Galloway
It seems like raising roughly $300,000 is a sweet spot for Georgia's Republican Senate candidates.
Former Secretary of State Karen Handel and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun both reported on Monday raising about that much money in the latest fundraising period through Sept. 30. U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, Handel's main metro Atlanta rival, tallied nearly the same total.
The three fell well behind U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, who has $2.9 million on hand after his $800,000 quarter, and businessman David Perdue, who put in $1 million of his money and raised another $810,000 in his first fundraising period as a political candidate. Expect both to try to position themselves as the frontrunners in the coming months.
Handel took in $286,000 from donors, leaving her with about $310,000 in cash for the campaign while Gingrey claimed $2.6 million in his campaign treasury after hauling in roughly the same take as Handel. Broun's campaign said Monday show he netted $280,000 in the quarter with $450,000 in the bank.
Meanwhile, Democrat frontrunner Michelle Nunn looms large. She's raised $1.7 million in her first fundraising period as a candidate, and has the backing of Democratic leaders in Washington and Georgia.
Handel's campaign has become somewhat of an expert on swaying attention from its fundraising results. Back in July, when other camps were boasting of their fundraising prowess, her team touted the endorsement of prominent GOP women. Earlier Monday, she rolled out another one: The backing of former state GOP chairman Sue Everhart of east Cobb County. From Everhart's missive:
“Karen comes from the grassroots. She's one of us -- and she won't forget it. We have the opportunity to elect a conservative woman that will be accountable to us, and not the broken system in Washington. What's wrong in Washington will not be solved by Congressmen that have spent over 40 years in Congress.”
Yes, there’s some female bonding going on here, but there’s also a union of antipathy toward Gov. Nathan Deal, and (on the more positive side) a meeting of suburban interests. Handel’s power center is in and around Roswell.
Perhaps even more important: Everhart's decision to back Handel can't be seen as anything but a hometown rejection of Gingrey.