Georgia Senate races shatter spending records

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The crucial runoff between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff will end Tuesday as the most expensive race for a Senate seat in U.S. history.

The second-most expensive Senate contest in history is the race for Georgia’s other Senate seat, between Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).

Together, the candidates and their supportive outside allies have pumped more than $830 million into the two races, an unheard-of sum that rivals totals spent in presidential campaigns of just a few decades ago.

Those figures will rise substantially once post-election reports are turned in to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Those reports are likely to show the two Democrats running in Tuesday’s elections will be the best-funded candidates ever to seek Senate seats.

Ossoff, making his second run for elected office after losing a special election for Congress in 2017, had raised $139 million through the middle of December, FEC reports show. Warnock, a first-time candidate, had raised $125 million, only $7 million behind former South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison, who lost a challenge to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in November.

Warnock is almost certain to have eclipsed Harrison’s total haul in the three weeks after his latest report was filed.

The two Republicans have proven no fundraising slouches, either. Perdue, whose Senate term ended on Sunday but could soon take office again if he wins the runoff, hauled in nearly $90 million by the middle of November, and Loeffler had raised $92 million — including $23 million she loaned herself.

While the Democratic candidates have outraised their GOP rivals, Republican outside groups have spent more than their Democratic counterparts so far. Since the November elections, GOP groups have dropped about $230 million on the races, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, while Democratic groups have spent $104 million.

The unprecedented campaign spending caps off what has become the most expensive election cycle in history, as Democrats and Republicans tapped into a surge of small-dollar donations fueled by voter anger at the other side.

The contest between President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden was the most expensive battle for the White House ever, and Biden became the first candidate to raise more than $1 billion in an election cycle. The battle for control of the Senate, which culminates Tuesday in Georgia, attracted more spending than ever before.

Nine of the 10 most expensive Senate races ever took place in 2020. The lone exception was in 2018, when then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) ousted Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in Florida.

Tags 2020 elections Bill Nelson campaign financing campaign spending David Perdue Donald Trump Fundraising Georgia Georgia runoffs Joe Biden Kelly Loeffler Lindsey Graham
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