Georgia Senate race becomes cash contest pitting Wall Street vs. Silicon Valley

Georgia Senate race becomes cash contest pitting Wall Street vs. Silicon Valley

A battle between Wall Street and Silicon Valley is being waged in a U.S. Senate race in Georgia.

As Republican Sen. David Perdue tries to fend off a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff, the great engines of wealth on the coasts are pouring cash into the contest, campaign finance records show.

Already, the campaigns have churned through more than $97 million in advertising with much of it financed from the coasts.

An analysis of federal campaign finance reports by the Center for Responsive Politics found that the largesse of New York tycoons benefit Mr. Perdue in the race while California tech wizards are writing checks for Mr. Ossoff, an investigative documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer.

Firms such as Goldman Sachs, takeover titans KKR Inc., and Apollo Management Group are among Mr. Perdue’s top donors. Employees from those companies have contributed at least $136,250; Goldman Sachs investment bankers comprise the 5th biggest source of contributions to his campaign, records show.

By contrast, Mr. Ossoff has raked in money from the University of California, Google’s parent Alphabet and Facebook. Employees at those locations have given nearly $82,000 to his campaign. Faculty and administrators in the far-flung University of California system comprise the 2nd biggest source of contributions to his campaign.

Thus far, the fact so much money has come from people far removed from Georgia has not become an issue in the campaigns, and overall the fundraising reflects what is increasingly being seen nationwide, several experts said.

Georgians are shrugging off the intrusion of coastal elites.

“The out-of-state money hasn’t come up. Maybe each candidate knows he’s as vulnerable on the issue as the other,” said Georgia State University political science professor Jeffrey Lazarus. “For better or for worse, campaign fundraising is national these days. And that’s true for virtually all competitive races at all levels.”

Georgia’s elections could prove among the most consequential in 2020. That is because both of the state’s Senate seats are up for grabs and both races are close.

The other Senate race is a special election to finish the term of former Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, who retired last January for health reasons. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, appointed Atlanta businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the seat, although President Trump favored Republican Rep. Doug Collins for the job.

Now, Mr. Collins is challenging Ms. Loeffler for the seat, a situation that could split the conservative vote and prevent either of them from topping the 50% threshold to avoid a December runoff vote that could include one of the Democratic candidates, such as the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The out-of-state money in the Perdue-Ossoff race has not kept Georgia businesses on the sidelines.

Workers from Delta Airlines, which is headquartered in Atlanta, are a top source of money for both campaigns, contributing $73,433 to Mr. Perdue and $12,099 to Mr. Ossoff, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Mr. Perdue’s top source of campaign money has been employees of Home Depot and other Peach State-based corporations such as Cox Communications, Aflac and gas and electric utility Southern Company.

In Mr. Ossoff’s campaign, faculty and administrators from Atlanta’s Emory University have been the No. 1 source of contributions, while employees at Georgia State University have also been among his top 20 contributors, records show.

Federal employees aren’t sitting out the race either: those at the Department of Health and Human Services have given Mr. Ossoff more than $17,000, records show.

Republicans have sought to paint Mr. Ossoff, 33, as the child of rich liberal patrons.

Indeed, the Ossoff campaign resembles that of Beto O’Rourke’s when Mr. O’Rourke marshaled a vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful 2018 bid to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas. Both Mr. Ossoff and Mr. O’Rourke are young, photogenic Democrats who garner glowing press reviews.

The Perdue campaign stressed that they running on massive grassroots effort,

“That’s a stark contrast to Jon Ossoff, whose radical, socialist campaign is bankrolled by wealthy liberals in California and New York,” said campaign spokeswoman Casey Black.

Ms. Black’s take echoes the one used against Mr. Ossoff in his unsuccessful 2017 House bid, when the GOP linked him with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Emory University political science professor Andra Gillespie.

“They would use pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, hippies, and put a depiction in voters’ minds of a guy who was rich and out-of-touch,” she said.

The notion a candidate’s wealth leaves him unconnected to most voters has also been a Democratic tactic used against Mr. Perdue, whose personal fortune comes from his days as a chief executive of multiple companies, Ms. Gillespie said.

“Money has been an issue, generally speaking, in the campaign because of how much is being spent,” she said.

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