Since Tuesday’s vote, the tight Republican race for the new 9th congressional district has been a contest to frame the next 15 days of debate.
And the money is quickly following suit.
State Rep. Doug Collins, the frontrunner by 738 votes of 109,778 cast last week, wants to keep the race local. His new “We are the 9th” slogan and condemnations of “celebrity” interlopers such as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich are aimed at blunting the momentum of his rival, former radio talk show host Martha Zoller.
On Thursday and Friday, the Collins campaign reported nearly $20,000 in new campaign contributions. The largest chunk — $5,000 – comes from former U.S. senator and governor Zell Miller and his wife Shirley. Miller remains the most influential political voice in northeast Georgia.
Another $11,000 comes from Georgia attorneys (Collins is one of their number), including $2,000 from Jim Butler in Columbus.
Zoller will attempt to generate a wave of tea party support, pointing to the victory of tea party favorite Ted Cruz in last week’s U.S. Senate race in Texas.
Zoller reports $11,500 raised since Tuesday’s vote. The largest portion, $5,000, comes from the political action committee of Washington-based Citizens United.
Another $2,500 comes from Ray Boyd, the would-be 2010 Republican candidate for governor. Boyd stepped in to help fund opposition to the transportation sales tax referendum that failed last week, though he has yet to disclose the amount of that contribution.
(My AJC colleague Daniel Malloy notes that Jack Kingston of Savannah is the only Georgia House member who has placed a bet in the race for the 9th. He’s given $1,000 to Zoller.)
On Friday, the Zoller campaign slammed “Gold Dome Doug” for his part in passing the TSPLOST referendum legislation that imposes a penalty on regions that didn’t pass the sales tax. Zoller accused Collins of ducking a tea party debate on Friday:
Collins, who approved the T-SPLOST referendum in the state House, apparently doesn’t want to answer questions about that penalty.
The Collins campaign admitted to a scheduling “snafu” that forced it to cancel, but said the candidate has already agreed to meet Zoller four times before the Aug. 21 runoff.
In an effort to rally social conservatives to his side, look for Collins this week to emphasize his service as an Air Force chaplain with Iraq experience.
Joel McElhannon is a top campaign strategist for Zoller; Chip Lake, the former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, plays the same role on the Collins campaign.
McElhannon and Lake are also on opposite sides of the District 31 state Senate runoff between GOP incumbent Bill Heath of Bremen (McElhannon) and Bill Carruth of Dallas (Lake), and the 12th District congressional runoff between state Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown (McElhannon) and Rick Allen of Augusta (Lake).
In the 12th District contest, Anderson has reported $6,500 raised since the runoff. Allen has raised $254,500. A $250,000 loan to himself by the construction company owner makes up the largest part.
Allen had previously loaned himself $250,000. Anderson is in the hole to himself for $178,000.
Another 12th District tidbit: Former Republican candidate for governor and state Senate leader Eric Johnson of Savannah on Friday evening Tweeted out this:
”Rick Allen has the best chance to win Georgia’s CD12. He built a construction business and can renovate Congress. Hard hats for Allen!”
Johnson’s old Senate district covers much of the 12th. Here’s the abrupt response from McElhannon, on Anderson’s behalf: “I’m shocked to learn that an architect who wants business from R.W. Allen Construction would support Rick Allen. Shocked. Can’t wait to see whose support Rick Allen buys next.”
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider