We told you he had deep pockets. Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, the presumptive front runner in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, has raised $2.7 million since he began his campaign in late April. That is more than rivals Secretary of State Brian Kemp ($1.7 million) and State Senator Hunter Hill (over $1 million). The other declared candidate, State Senator Michael Williams, has not announced his haul yet, but it will be probably be the smallest in the Republican field.
Cagle also may have another $2.5 million from the Georgia Conservatives Fund waiting to support him. The fund is tied to Cagle’s political consultant and was started by his former campaign manager. It has brought in large donations from the casino industry, beer distributors, and nursing homes. From July to December 2016, it raised $2.25 million. By law, the fund cannot explicitly endorse Cagle, but it can promote his policies.
Cagle’s campaign said that the $2.7 million fundraising haul came from 1,200 donors, including 120 Republican elected officials. We’ll dig deeper into the fundraising numbers for all candidates once they become available on the state campaign finance commission website.
Cagle’s haul is one of the largest ever reported at this stage in the gubernatorial race. It is not surprising that it came from a man who has raised $11 million in previous runs for statewide office. It’s long been thought that Cagle would bring in the most dollars in this campaign and probably have the deepest support from lobbyists, elected Republicans, and traditional GOP donors. He recently announced a slew of endorsements from officials in northwest Georgia and will probably continue to rack up support before the end of the year.
The biggest negative of his campaign so far has been his poor showings in straw polls at the Georgia GOP Convention and a meeting of the Cobb County GOP. He finished behind Hunter Hill and Brian Kemp in both polls. He did, however, win a poll at a meeting of the Forsyth County GOP. While one could read those showings as a lack of enthusiasm among the GOP’s most active supporters, they are probably not representative of the wider primary electorate and, thus, Cagle shouldn’t worry too much as he continues to build his war chest for 2018.