AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Surge in last-minute money predicted big win for Nathan Deal

While polls showed the race between Gov. Nathan Deal and Democrat Jason Carter close, the last-minute money – given after it could do any good on Election Day – was almost all on the incumbent.

Deal’s campaign took in more than $150,000 on Monday and Tuesday, Election Day, while Carter took in roughly $13,000 the day before the vote. On Election Day alone, Deal’s campaign – which outspent Carter 2-to-1 – collected about $30,000.

082214 senate kdj01 For the most part, it wasn’t make-up money for Carter donors who suddenly decided to hedge their bets and go with the winner. That will likely come in during the next few weeks, if it comes in at all.

Much of the Deal money came from families or companies that had earlier contributed to his campaign. Little of it was designated for a general election runoff, which was a good thing since there isn’t going to be one.

Some of it came from big state contractors, like 3M ($2,000), LogistiCare ($6,300) and UnitedHealth Group ($6,300), one of the once and future managers of the State Health Benefit Plan and its 650,000 members. He also got a few last-minute checks from statehouse lobbies, like the grocery store association ($2,500) and the car dealers ($1,500).

Finally, on Election Day, he got last-minute money ($1,500) from Rob Willis, a fixture with one of top lobby firms at the Capitol, Troutman Sanders. Willis’ boss and chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies is former state Senate leader Pete Robinson, a friend of the governor and a major fundraiser for his campaign.

Robinson and Deal were in the Senate leadership together in the early 1990s when the chamber was dominated by Democrats.

Reader Comments ...

About the Author

James Salzer has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1990.