The Republican Governors Association (RGA) has become the biggest independent spender by far in the governor’s race, pumping more than $5.4 million into the campaign to support former congressman Nathan Deal.
In its disclosure report filed Tuesday, the RGA said it has spent $5,416,530 in Georgia to produce and buy air time for attack ads aimed at former governor Roy Barnes, the Democratic nominee. The money has been channeled through a shell campaign fund, RGA Georgia 2010 PAC.
By the time the ballots are counted on Tuesday, the RGA may well have spent more than $6 million in its efforts to beat Barnes. If there’s a runoff between Deal and Barnes, the RGA could conceivably end up spending as much as $7 million or $8 million on the governor’s race.
The RGA has spent almost as much as Deal reported raising in his last disclosure report for the period ending Sept. 30, which was $6.29 million.
RGA money has more than erased any fundraising advantage Barnes might have had earlier in the race. The combined amount of money spent by RGA and Deal totals $11.7 million, according to the latest available information.
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has contributed $1.5 million to the Barnes campaign. The combined Barnes-DGA money totals $9.25 million.
The RGA was formerly chaired by Gov. Sonny Perdue, who defeated Barnes in the 2002 governor’s race, and the organization is now run by a former Perdue campaign aide, Nick Ayers.
The RGA has been a major dispenser of campaign funds in the 2010 election cycle. In its third quarter report filed with the IRS, the RGA said it raised $31.2 million and spent $40 million. The DGA reported raising $9.8 million and spending $19.3 million during the third quarter.
While the amount of money spent in Georgia is impressive, the RGA has funneled even more into the Illinois governor’s race in support of Republican candidate Bill Brady: $6.8 million.
One of the RGA’s biggest contributors is the media empire headed by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch’s business affiliates have given at least $1.25 million to the RGA this year, which has also received a $1 million contribution from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Several companies with business interests in Georgia have also been major backers of the RGA, including Columbus-based AFLAC insurance ($30,000), Corrections Corporation of America ($75,000), Yancey Brothers construction ($50,000) and Waffle House ($125,000).
Some of the major sources of funding for the DGA have been labor organizations such as AFSCME ($700,000), SEIU ($250,000), and the American Federation of Teachers ($100,000). The women’s political organization Emily’s List has also contributed $100,000 to the DGA.
© 2010 by The Georgia Report