United States Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia’s 1st District is shaking up the 2014 U.S. Senate race through his ability to raise funds on a large scale. In a crowded Republican primary field, Kingston is the only candidate from South Georgia to participate in the race for retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss’s seat. As he tries to gain more support for his campaign and spread his message throughout the state, Kingston will need to raise money quickly in order to compete on a large scale with his metro Atlanta counterparts. So far, he has done just that.
Last quarter, Rep. Kingston raised over $800,000 in support for his campaign. This marks the third consecutive quarter he has brought in a good haul. Last quarter, Kingston raised money across a stretch of 38 finance events around the state of Georgia. More importantly, over half of the donations to his campaign came from outside of the South Georgia area. Such geographical diversity demonstrates that Kingston’s message is being received favorably across the state, allowing him to pick up donors from a wide range of supporters.
Kingston has developed a strong war chest of over $2.9 million on hand, with no debt to his name. If Kingston can maintain his tremendous fundraising pace, he will certainly remain competitive throughout the race and quite possibly even become the frontrunner to win the seat. His fundraising ability will to allow him to spread his message across new areas of Georgia and potentially steal votes away from districts he is not supposed to compete well in.
All of this depends, of course, on how much money his competitors are pulling in. At this point in the race, Kingston and Congressman Phil Gingrey are leading the way monetarily; they are also leading in the polls alongside well-established Representative Paul Broun. Both Broun and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, another Republican candidate, raised roughly $300,000 in the last quarter.
Republicans like Gingrey and Kingston must also take into account Democrat candidate Michelle Nunn, who was reported to raise an impressive $1.7 million dollars in the first fundraising period. While the state-wide Senate election is a safe bet for the Republican party, Nunn will not go quietly into the night, so Kingston must keep pace if he wants to be on solid ground in the general election, following the primary.
Fundraising and broad-targeted messaging is especially key for Kingston because he cannot win the Republican primary or U.S. Senate race by simply winning his home turf, South Atlanta, alone. He must raise and spend money to branch out into areas around metro Atlanta and North Georgia in order to win. However, the fact that he is the only member in the race from South Georgia may end up helping him. It is quite possible that his metro Atlanta challengers will split the vote among one another in the Atlanta area, thus allowing Kingston to eke out a primary win, or at least a runoff race. Should a runoff occur, Kingston would need to compete quickly in a large market by spending a great deal of money — continuing to raise funds at his current pace would allow him to do just that.
Jack Kingston and his fundraising abilities are a major wild-card factor in Georgia’s 2014 U.S. Senate race as it continues to heat up. Kingston’s ability to fundraise will benefit him greatly as he competes across the vast state of Georgia — but can he keep up the pace? We will soon see how Kingston’s message is received by undecided donors across the state, but if the past has told us anything about his fundraising ability, the answer is welcoming for his campaign.
—Russell Dye is a junior studying political science
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