ATLANTA — With the primary election about a month away, Georgia's candidates are pumping money into their campaigns and millions have been spent to make it on the ballot.
Georgia Republican Herschel Walker said last week that his U.S. Senate campaign had raised $5.5 million in the first three months of 2022, a big haul that is still dwarfed by the $13.6 million that Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock raised in the same period.
A former football star, Walker is the GOP front-runner but faces five other Republicans in the May 24 primary. A June 21 runoff, if necessary, would settle the Republican nomination.
Georgia will be a key battleground in the 2022 midterm elections to determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. Republicans had long dominated statewide races until Georgia helped elect Joe Biden to the presidency and enabled Democrats to control the Senate by electing Warnock and fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff in a January 2021 runoff.
Walker has raised $14.6 million since announcing his run. Campaign spokesperson Mallory Blount said Walker had close to $7.4 million in cash.
Among other candidates in the GOP primary, Navy veteran and former bank executive Latham Saddler said he raised $651,000 in the quarter and has nearly $2 million in cash. Former state Rep. Josh Clark raised almost $103,000 and had almost $123,000 on hand. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black raised $214,000 in the period but spent more than he raised, leaving him with $792,000. Construction company owner Kelvin King raised $199,000 but also spent more than he raised, leaving him with $145,000. Former Army general Jonathan “Jon” McColumn had not yet filed or reported totals.
Walker, a political newcomer, won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Georgia and went on to star in the NFL. President Donald Trump, a close friend of Walker's, is backing his run despite questions about Walker's business dealings and history of violence against women.
In the Democratic primary, Warnock is a heavy favorite to defeat Tamara Johnson-Shealey. Libertarian Chase Oliver will also be on the general election ballot in November.
Walker's campaign said it received donations from more than 50,000 givers.
“The Republican nominee against Warnock will have to raise money and bring new voters to the table. I am doing both,” Walker said in a statement.
Warnock said Thursday that he has $25.6 million on hand. He's raised $43 million for this election cycle, after raising more than $125 million for his 2020 Senate race.
Warnock, who is pastor of the Atlanta church where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached, became Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator after winning a special election in 2020 to fill the unexpired term of Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson. Isakson stepped down because of failing health; he died in December.