- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

PERRY, Ga. (AP) - Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has begun stockpiling funds in case of a December runoff against Democratic challenger Jason Carter while surpassing the total amount he raised during his 2010 run, according to recently filed campaign reports.

The disclosures filed Tuesday offer a glimpse of each candidate’s support and priorities heading into the final weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Polls suggest a tight race, and Democrats see both the governor’s race and a fierce battle for Georgia’s open Senate seat as a path to reclaiming what they lost in 2010 when Republicans swept every statewide office.

Deal, who led the GOP wave four years ago, received just over $5 million in contributions over the last three months and has raised a total of $14.3 million for his re-election bid. Carter, a state senator and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, reported $3 million in contributions for the quarter with just under $7 million for the campaign.

Deal’s total is notable considering the former congressman raised nearly $8.4 million four years ago over the course of a contentious GOP primary and then general election match-up against former Democratic Gov. Roy Barnes. Barnes raised just shy of $9 million.

The most important figure may be how much cash each candidate has for the final stretch. Carter has a slight edge with about $2.8 million in the bank compared to Deal’s $2.6 million.

Deal spent almost as much as he raised, including $4.1 million on advertising. Carter reported spending $1.2 million in TV advertising.

“When you pay your bills, it cuts into your cash on hand,” Deal said, noting his campaign had paid for most of its advertising in advance. “We feel very good going forward that we’re going to have the revenue and resources to be able to finish the campaign.”

The prospect of a Dec. 2 runoff looms over the race, and Deal has collected about $125,000 in contributions that would immediately be available should that occur. Carter has received just $4,000 in such funds, although both candidates would likely see a quick influx of cash.

Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas called Deal’s runoff contributions a sign of unease heading into Election Day. “They are playing for a runoff because they know they can’t win on Nov. 4,” Thomas said.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson argued the governor has the momentum. “We’re always going to be prepared,” Robinson said. “It’s clearer by the minute that we are going to cross 50 percent.”

A runoff would happen if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote. Libertarian candidate Andrew Hunt, the former CEO of a nanotechnology firm, could play spoiler. Libertarians running statewide have consistently drawn about 3 to 4 percent of the vote.

Hunt reported receiving about $15,500 in contributions over the last quarter and had about that much in cash for the final weeks.


- The Deal campaign said state lawmakers contributed roughly $550,000 to the governor. That comes after Deal made a personal plea asking for their support. Carter received at least $17,000 in contributions from his colleagues in the General Assembly.

- Deal paid about $319,000 to The Sassafras Group, a consulting firm run by his daughter-in-law, Denise Deal. The vast majority was for fundraising. The campaign has said the firm receives the industry standard of 10 percent of what is raised.

- Nearly 88 percent of Deal’s contributions came from donors living in Georgia, compared to just over 80 percent in-state donors for Carter.


Associated Press Writer Kathleen Foody in Locust Grove, Georgia, contributed to this report. Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Christina .

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